Earlier this week the Senate passed, with no debate and no opposition, a bill that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent throughout the country as of Nov. 2023. The bill still has to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the President before becoming law, but if that happens we will no longer “fall back” the first Sunday morning in November and “spring ahead” in March as we did this week.
There is a statement that “every problem has a solution which is simple, elegant, and wrong.” This statement has been variously attributed to Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken, and management expert Peter Drucker. Regardless of who actually said it, I believe that this bill is a classic example of this maxim.
Yes, changing our clocks twice a year is inconvenient -- although in the Internet age, much less inconvenient than it used to be. Most of my clocks now change automatically and the only ones that I had to manually adjust were the ones on our oven and in our car (I have yet to figure out how to set the clock on our microwave and therefore never need to adjust it.)
Our country has been down this route before. In 1973 and 1974, as a result of the Arab oil embargo, the country stayed on Daylight Saving Time for two years in an attempt to save energy. There was in fact a small decrease in energy use but at the end of the two years the country clamored for a return to the previous system. I was in High School at the time and took a bus every day, and I distinctly remember how spooky and frankly unsafe it felt to walk to the bus stop and then wait for the bus in pitch blackness.
Agudath Israel, the group which represents Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”) Jews in this country is already strongly lobbying against this bill. If it passes, it will have a significant impact on Jewish observance in this country. Shacharit (morning prayers) can only be said once the sun has risen and if Daylight Saving Time is in effect year round, it will be impossible to say shacharit at the right time and still get to work on time. Morning minyan on weekdays will be limited to those who are retired or otherwise not going to work. Kosher restaurants which open on Saturday nights during the winter will probably no longer find it profitable to do so since they will lose an hour of business, and Saturday night Bar and Bat Mitzvah receptions and weddings will also be difficult to schedule as Shabbat ends an hour later than it used to.
Having said that, as someone who takes a strong interest in Jewish questions of public policy, I am not sure how much weight Congress and the President ought to give to the particular interests of a group which, after all, represents two percent of the population. It’s not, after all, a question of free exercise of religion, but rather the fact that exercising our religion will be slightly less convenient. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our Zoom Purim celebration Wednesday night. Thank you to Hazzan Komrad, Joe Lustig, Jacob Sheib and Michael Sheib for reading the Megillah. Congratulations to costume contest winners Andrew Friend, Calvin Friend, and Paula Eisen Rabin, and to Tom and Linda Loggie for best Purim Zoom background.
We continue to be deeply concerned about the welfare of the Ukrainian people under attack from Russia and those who have fled the country. Our own Masorti (Conservative) movement has been active in Ukraine for decades with what was until recently a thriving network of congregations, schools, and camps. If you want to assist the worldwide Masorti effort in Ukraine and neighboring countries please give at this link.
As a reminder, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has established a Ukraine Emergency Fund to meet emergency humanitarian needs. You can find out more and donate here.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian