In the Book of Genesis: “God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.” On the face of it, it’s a “heavenly” solution: man rises in the morning, gathers, hunts, eats, prays, loves, and when he’s tired, he sleeps at night. All is good in the world.
Until man takes out his pocket watch and begins to meddle with the calendar. Until he bends the hands of time to his will. Historically, winter daylight saving was adopted to take advantage of more daylight hours early in the morning. It enabled the farmer to till his land, tend to his animals. That was the upside. The downside was that it turned dark sooner, in late afternoon.
To some Jews in Israel, specifically the ultra-orthodox, dark is good. They went as far as legislate a law that sets the winter clock in September, a month a half ahead of Europe and the U.S.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, the Jews’ holiest of days. It is also a day of fasting, from sunset to the next sunset, 25 hours, to be exact.
It stands to reason that they want the dark to arrive sooner. They’d eat sooner. But not everyone is thrilled. The secular Jews in Israel accuse the religious of hijacking the country to conform to their will. The secular want more light at the end of the day. Last year 400,000 had signed a petition to repeal the law. They contend that by the time they get home from work, they’re unable to spend time outdoors with their kids. Since it get dark earlier, they claim that their electricity bill is higher. They went as far as enlist transportation experts who argue that auto accidents are more frequent in the dark, by 46%.
“Be Free Israel,” a grassroots movement whose mission is to promote pluralism and freedom of religion, organized a demonstration in Tel Aviv against the rolling back of the clock. Only 50 attended.
Could it be that they didn’t synchronize their watches?
The secular may be complaining about daylight but it’s more about where the country is heading, a clash of cultures. It’s a covert and overt cover for all their gripes about the religious getting government support, generous childcare support, exemption from military service, the taking up of secular neighborhoods in Jerusalem, to name a few.
Eli Yishai, Israel’s Minister of Interior, is a member of Shas, a religious party. During a recent parliament session he headed, ministers discussed moving the winter clock to October 1st, as a compromise.
They spoke and shouted. Nothing happened. This year the clock was rolled back on September 22nd. And since the Jewish holidays run on the Jewish calendar, in 2013 the clock will roll back even sooner, to September 9. This means that while it’s still hot out, people act as if it’s winter.
Dr. Doron Lavie, head of Economics School at Tel Chai College in Galilee was quoted on the radio this week. “Since we do not match our time with that of Europe and the U.S., the loss in productivity to the Israeli economy could run into the tens, possibly hundreds of millions of shekels.”
I’d like to stay and chat, but Yom Kippur is about to start in 4 hours. I’m no math genius, but I did some calculations of my own. Tomorrow morning, if I synchronize my Galilee watch with that of Los Angeles, I’ll be able to eat at 9 in the morning….
Oops, I’d better atone for my transgression.