Israeli Time Change Sparks Debate

Published: September 16th 2010
in News » Israel

Pic: wikimedia commons

The annual switch from Daylight Savings Time back to Standard Time in Israel created quite a stir over the past few weeks, as Israelis were not too pleased with the earlier than usual time change. Israel pushed the clocks back this past Sunday, while countries such as the U.S. do not plan on changing doing the same until November 7, which is not for another eight weeks.


The reason for the unusually early time change is due to the nature of this year’s High Holidays, which occur earlier in September than normal. In 2005, a bill to end Daylight Savings Time before Yom Kippur was passed and Israel has been following this law ever since. The bill was initiated by Orthodox parties to encourage Israeli Jews to observe the 25 hour fast, which may feel easier to some due to the fact that sundown is slightly earlier.


Interior Minister Eli Yishai feels that religious Jews have become scapegoats for inconveniences to be caused by the early time change. “The bill to end daylight saving time before Yom Kippur was passed in 2005, while [Shas, the ultra-orthodox religious political party] was in the opposition. It was based on social and financial considerations and enjoyed a broad political consensus,” Yishai told Army Radio, while also noting that this debate was “bizarre and comical.”


Those against the early time change felt that it would negatively affect the economy, due to necessary spending on extra electrical lighting during the morning. They also argued that there will be less time to enjoy the summer-like weather after work hours.


According to Arutz Sheva, suggestions have ranged from switching to Standard Time and then back again, to postponing the switch this year, to even postponing the switch every year. A member of the left-wing Meretz Party recently introduced a bill to annually end Daylight Savings Time at the end of October, despite the fact that the bill could not even be passed before Yom Kippur, which begins Friday September 17 at sundown. An online petition to ignore the switch and keep acting as if the clocks were still on Daylight Savings Time has reportedly gathered over 230,000 signatures.


Shimon Eckhaus, creator of the petition, encouraged Israelis to “please just keep acting as if the clock didn’t move,” while also claiming that the time change will cost the country “hundreds of millions of shekels.” He argued that the Yom Kippur fast “lasts 25 hours either way.”


Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz of the Jewish Home-National Religious Party concurred. “I don't see any Jewish aspect to this struggle [over Daylight Savings Time],” he said. “The overwhelming majority of the public that thinks fasting on Yom Kippur is important will fast either way, and the length of the fast won’t change.”

Related articles: (daylight savings, standard time)
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