Year-round daylight saving time threatens Jewish morning prayers | national
By MICHELE CHABIN – Religious Information Service
(RNS) — American Jews say they were blindsided by the U.S. Senate’s lightning-fast passage of a bill to enforce daylight saving time year-round and intend to fight it.
The Sun Protection Act, which was passed by the Senate on March 15, will make it nearly impossible for Jews to pray together in the morning, say Jewish advocates, and to travel to work or school outside. time during the winter months.
According to Jewish law, morning prayers must take place after sunrise. Daylight saving time, which currently begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November, extends darkness into late winter mornings.
“It will affect our religious life, our professional life and our family life,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president of government affairs for Agudath Israel of America. “If corporate and personal prayers start after 8 a.m., how will people get to work at 9 a.m. or earlier?”
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Cohen said Agudath Israel issued a statement and sent a detailed explanation of those difficulties to House of Representatives lawmakers, whose leaders did not say whether they would put the bill to a vote.
In Judaism, the morning prayer service, called “Shacharit” because it begins after dawn – shachar in Hebrew – usually lasts 30 to 40 minutes when recited communally. The reading of the Torah and the recitation of certain prayers, including the kaddish, or prayer of mourning, must take place in a group with a quorum of 10, called minyan.
Unlike previous legislation on seasonal daylight savings time, Jewish community leaders say, lawmakers did not inform them that the issue was on the Senate agenda, or that it would be expedited through a process called unanimous consent.
Other stakeholders, from farmers to teachers, also expressed surprise at the quick passage of the bill.
In a statement on the bill, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the measure’s lead sponsor, said permanent daylight saving time would reduce car accidents, thefts and seasonal depression and promote fitness.
“Turning DST on and off is deprecated, and it’s just annoying and confusing,” Rubio said. “Honestly, that’s just dumb, and there’s no other way to put it.”
Since the bill’s passage, synagogues have begun circulating petitions and some Jewish organizations have begun to lobby lawmakers against its implementation.
In a document sent Monday, March 21, Agudath Israel noted that under daylight saving time, sunrise in Detroit would occur after 8 a.m. on 131 days of the year, and after 9 a.m. morning for 23 days. In Cincinnati, sunrise began after 8 a.m. 135 days a year.
Such a late departure would make it “extremely difficult” for observant Jews who work away from home to pray in the morning, Cohen said.
“Morning prayers are held every morning, and it’s not something employers know about. Coming to work late every morning is a much bigger demand” in American workplaces, Cohen said.
As it stands, many employers allow observant Jews to leave early for Shabbat, which can start as early as 4 p.m. in some states.
Having to leave early on Fridays “is an issue that Jews raise before being hired. This is something that employers know. The same has not been true for morning services, Cohen noted.
Nathan Diament, executive director of advocacy at the Orthodox Union, said jet lag is not just a Jewish issue. OU, Agaduth Israel and other Jewish organizations are also expressing concern about the impact of the bill on schoolchildren “who will travel in the morning in pitch darkness” and the “health impacts” for society as a whole. together.
“We will engage with members of Congress, and just as we do on all kinds of issues, we will work in coalition with other groups aligned with the same perspective on this issue,” Diament said.
While admitting that thwarting passage of the bill will be an uphill battle, “I think it’s possible the House won’t pass it,” Cohen said. “Congress isn’t passing it today, which gives us a chance to find our allies and voice our concerns.”
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