The Endless Battle over Ending Daylight Time

summer sunDid you have fun setting and clearing the table half a dozen times? Washing enough dishes to last until next year (and don’t tell me you used paper!)? I certainly hope you enjoyed the three-day marathon of cooking, praying and eating that was Rosh Hashanah followed by Shabbat, because we get to do it again next year. And again in 2013, and 2014. A small consolation: When Rosh Hashanah starts on Thursday, the rest of the holidays are singletons.

While religious Jews in Israel turned off their computers for three days I imagine the secular community was continuing to plot revenge for being forced by the charedi political parties to change the clocks so early.

“Clock of the winter,” otherwise knows as sha’on horef, or winter time, starts tonight. Israel returns to standard time six weeks before the rest of the civilized world. The ostensible reason is so that the fast on Yom Kippur will be shorter. But since the fast starts and ends at nightfall, the difference is only psychological. As one columnist wrote, in his shul there are two clocks. Last Yom Kippur one was set to daylight time, and one to standard time. And lo and behold, the fast ended simultaneously on both clocks.

My husband insists that the real reason the haredim fight so hard for less daylight time, thereby generating so much ill will, is to prevent desecration of the Sabbath. Because when Shabbat ends at 7:30 PM, people aren’t going out yet, or they are willing to wait until Shabbat is over to get into their cars. But when Shabbat ends at 8:30, it becomes too inconvenient. According to this view, Yom Kippur is simply an excuse.

A few years ago, after semi-annual battles, the sides worked out an agreement in 2005 to begin daylight time the Thursday between March 26 and April 2, and end it the Sunday before Yom Kippur.

With Yom Kippur falling so early this year, activists gathered over 230,000 names on a petition threatening to ignore the time change. But I don’t think this is realistic. Can you see the teachers agreeing to come to school an hour early every day?

Personally, I can think of other haredi–religious-secular conflicts worth starting a civil war over. But since those issues are more complex than whether or not the sun goes down a few hours after school, they will have to sit on the shelf a while longer.

I read that the city of Givatayim, near Tel Aviv, was considering keeping daylight time for longer. And Eli Yishai considered switching back to daylight time after Yom Kippur. Then he said that he didn’t think it was possible.

I wish daylight time wouldn’t end just when Shabbat is starting at 6:30 PM. The early return to standard time wastes electricity (but is air-conditioning taken into account?), hurts businesses dependent on pedestrian traffic, and leads to more car accidents. But I would like an end to these constant battles.

Photo credit: kevin dooley



  1. We have the “chef doesn’t do the dishes” rule in our household. This makes everything so much easier.
    As for winter time, there’s one day a year when most Canadians love it- the pubs serve for an extra hour . đŸ™‚

  2. It’s annoying for it to get dark so early, especially this year with the holidays coming out so early. My “Seasonal Affective Disorder” will start early this year!

    Also, they usually turn the clock back before the seder, making it start later, at least do it after that night, if you’re going to do it at all.

    But I think we shouldn’t even bother at all….

  3. Ugh, don’t get me started. This is a real hot button for me, each year it feels like they’re stealing our summer, and for no good reason at all, just out of spite. It’s more expensive, more dangerous (especially with so many children coming home from after-school activities in the dark!) and just plain wrong. And yes, I signed the petition. I didn’t expect anything to change this year but maybe the more people show how angry and upset they are the more likely a more rational and widely accepted solution will be found for next year.


    My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

  4. What is interesting to me is to see the difference between the willingness to compromise with the Palestinians – people who openly embrace the Nazi ideology – as opposed to the furious opposition to any compromise with other, religious Jews.

    Usually these are the exact same people who will oppose any kind of religious coercion on principle, and yet will negotiate their own heritage and lives away in order to accommodate Islamic fascists, who openly admit that their only desire is to exterminate the

  5. With three children to ferry around after school or walking alone from friends alone, it is more than an annoyance that darkness falls so early. I hope that a compromise can be reached.

  6. Klara Le Vine says

    Excellent post – loved the line about the two clocks in the shul – I also keep half my clocks on the old time. I don’t get all the arguments – just find it such a waste of energy.

    also loved what jjoe wrote – now if anyone has the solutions how to end arguments, I would consider him/her for the title of Mashiach.

  7. I get all the danger, etc. But I HATE this heat. I was kind of relieved to be walking home from the pediatrician in the dark today. The kids go to bed “earlier.” My daughter needs the sleep in the mornings and I enjoy being able to shop after the sun goes down. Of course if you’re one of those who make it out in the morning before the heat of day, or like taking your kids to school before the sun is blazing in the sky… I guess you’ll have to suck it up another month or so. I might change my mind when I have to get my son to the doc tomorrow at “old 7:10”.

  8. Winter time is *standard* time. It’s DST that’s the change. I do enjoy DST, but I am not so sorry to change back to the standard. And I appreciate that the fast today and on Yom Kippur end at an earlier time. It’s not “just” psychological. After all, davening times in the morning are set based on the clock, not based on the hours since daylight. Therefore, it makes the YK break between the morning service and the afternoon service an hour shorter. And those are the hours when the fast starts to get hard. So the hard part of the fast is shorter. I like that.

    • Ilana, standard time is artificial too. Israel could belong to a different time zone, GMT+3 since we are on the border. And there’s no reason your shul can’t start later–the start time should be relevant to sunrise, no? Just like mincha and arvit.

      • Uh, no. I don’t know of any shuls that set Shacharit time by sunrise, except Netz minyanim. Weekdays, people usually just want a time that will enable them to get to work on time, and let them sleep as late as possible. And on Shabbat, the shuls I know start at the same time year round. Too confusing to change it around.

        • Hi Ilana,
          You’re right about weekday minyanim, and possibly Shabbat. We’re talking about YK, not every day. I’m pretty sure it’s common for shuls to set different start times on holidays, esp. RH, YK and Simchat Torah which have such long services.
          The reason the fast feels longer during daylight time isn’t because of the shul start time, it’s because of when we are used to waking up and eating breakfast. So I’ll concede that it’s partially physiological and not just physical. The question is whether it’s worth inconveniencing so many others because of this.
          For the record, our shul does start half an hour later on Shabbat summers because there is already such a long afternoon.