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Shabbat & Daylight Savings Time

March 13, 2015

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, March 13, 2015.

Shabbat and Daylight Savings Time

This Shabbat, candle lighting is at 6:37 pm, and Shabbat officially starts 20 minutes later at 6:57 pm. However... last week, Shabbat candle lighting was at 5:29 pm. Yikes! That's A LOT earlier. What's the difference? Daylight Savings Time, of course! Daylight Savings time started last Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, and we set the clock forward an hour! Daylight savings time is a sticky issue - it wasn't enacted until WW I, although it was proposed by Benjamin Franklin as early as 1784. The main idea is to maximize sunlight during typical waking hours. In traditional Jewish communities it's seen as both a complication and a liberation. In the summer, when Daylight Standard time makes Saturdays longer since the sun sets late, it minimizes the potential activities after Shabbat is over, since even to get to a movie on Saturday night, a traditional Jew would have to get to a 10 pm or even 11 pm screening! However, since the days are also long on Friday, and candle lighting is SO late, if a traditional family prefers to eat Shabbat Dinner after the sun is set - that might be quite a late dinner! On the other hand, when we shift to Daylight Standard time the nightfall is sooner. Saturday nights are a breeze - this week Shabbat is over by 7:38. Going out on Saturday night is no problem at all. There's even time for a shower before getting ready! But... as summer progresses Shabbat lasts longer and longer.

In Israel, of course, in a Jewish State, there are all the same issues. The clock changes were always around the same times that they are in America. However, the Israeli government made a major change in 2005 when they changed the clock to Standard Time MUCH earlier in the year. The Knesset (Parliament) decided that the clock change would happen immediately before Yom Kippur. Since Yom Kippur is a fast day that ends as the sun sets, the idea was to change the clock so people would have to fast an hour less during waking hours on the day of Yom Kippur. Nice idea right? Of course it was applauded in the observant Israeli world. Secular Jews, however found fault with it. It remains a matter of controversy to this day. Today, the system in Israel has changed yet again. We here in America are mostly unified as to the dates of changing the clocks (except for Hawaii and for the large Navaho reservation in Arizona which don't observe Daylight Savings Time). In the current system in Israel, changing the clocks to Daylight Savings Time (Sh'on Kayitz) is just before Passover - this year will be on March 27. They'll change the clocks back not before Yom Kippur, as in 2005, but way afterwards... in fact, well after Sukkot, on October 25.

Shabbat Shalom