Recently, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent. Of course, many of us immediately thought about the halachic implications of this change. Most notably, the winter months would be a very difficult time for Shacharis, as the early risers who already need to be mindful of the clock, would have to wait an extra hour for talis and t’filin. Minyanim would not be able to think about beginning until 7 a.m. here in New York, and some days would be even later. Hashkamah minyanim on Shabbos would be affected as well. This is a greater problem for shuls that have one room wherein the second minyan starts after Hashkamah ends.
But not all of the changes would be that drastically negative. In the winter, Shabbos would start an hour later. Employers will certainly like that, and it gives us an extra hour to prepare on Fridays. It also makes those incredibly long Friday nights a bit shorter. So if you currently enjoy getting 12 hours of sleep on Parshas VaY’chi, you’ll have to settle for 11 if this sticks. Additionally, lighting candles on Chanukah would be an hour later. That’s also good for working parents who want to be able to light at the earliest time possible.
There are other scheduling items to consider with this change. Firstly, if your shul has some sort of parent-child learning scheduled for Motza’ei Shabbos, that would likely need to be reconsidered. In my shul, we end that a few weeks before the clocks change, as Shabbos ends too late even then. I’m not sure if this will mean the end of such programming, or have it see a major reconfiguration. Secondly, everything we’ve said up until now is true for communities on the eastern side of their time zone. The farther west one goes, the more severe the change. So, communities like those in New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Colorado will not be as affected as those in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Arizona. That is something to keep in mind when traveling.
However, there is another option to consider here. Instead of the entire country forever being on Daylight Saving Time, we could instead be on “forever standard time.” Of course, there are the secular issues to consider here. Children will be able to go to school in the light being the chief among these concerns. But it is also interesting to see how much Jewish life would improve if we had perpetual standard time.
Firstly, fast days would end an hour earlier. I could really end the article here and you’d be convinced. Yom Kippur, Tish’ah B’Av, Tzom Gedaliah, Shiv’ah Asar B’Tamuz, and Taanis Esther every year would end an hour earlier, and yes, I know two of those are 25 hours regardless, but I think we can all agree that the change will be psychologically helpful. And speaking of Taanis Esther, how much better is Purim on shorter years, especially at night, when leining can start at around 6 p.m. instead of 7:00? That would be forever.
Let’s move onto Pesach. Remember those magical years before the time to change over to DST was moved earlier? There were some years that the s’darim could be in standard time. Those were good times. But the bonus of not only Pesach, but all yamim tovim, being in standard time is the second night. Because of preparation restrictions, we cannot even begin doing anything for night two of Yom Tov until after nightfall. Now move that nightfall one hour earlier. That’s twice on Pesach, and once each on Shavuos, Rosh HaShanah, Sukkos, and Simchas Torah.
But that’s not all. Shacharis on the first day of Shavuos is an hour earlier. You want to have a bonfire on Lag BaOmer? How about starting it at 8:00 instead of 9:00? You live on the western side of the time zones mentioned earlier? How would you like Shabbos ending before 10 p.m. in the summer?
The only drawback I could think of that would affect Judaism is the timing of chuppahs in the summer. Sunset would likely be right around the time a standard chuppah could start. This could be an issue with the k’subah, but given all the good that will come out of this, that is a price we should be willing to pay, especially as this issue currently exists elsewhere in the calendar.
Of course, not all of the advantages are strictly for Jews. Putting kids to bed in the dark is so much easier than if it’s light. July Fourth fireworks can start earlier. And, oh, studies have shown that more carbon-based energy is used during the daytime, so you’d be helping the environment.
It has not been lost on me that the primary sponsor of this bill has been Sen. Marco Rubio, who represents Florida, a state whose economy is based entirely on how fun it is during the day. Florida is called “The Sunshine State” for a reason. Of course, they would want more winter-time sunshine hours to be during normal awake time. But that should not mean that the rest of us should be forced to follow. If Florida wants to shift their sunshine hours, they can. They do not need the rest of the country to follow suit. Arizona already does not change their clocks. Florida can do the same. In fact, every state can do the same.
I do not often ask people to call their representatives to make their voice known, but this change can have such drastic ramifications to day-to-day life that it warrants the request. If you believe in what was written here, call your representative. They are the only ones with the power to change this legislation, because even if President Biden vetoes this bill, all that is needed is a two-thirds majority in the Senate to overrule it, and all of them already voted in favor of the bill. After that, call your State Senator and Assembly member. Ask them to bring up keeping New York on standard time all year round, even if the rest of the country moves to DST. Together, we can make standard time the standard.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.