Florida’s Orthodox Jewish community is working to convince the governor not to sign a bill that would keep the state in daylight saving time all year.
Agudath Israel of Florida has contacted state lawmakers to explain how the Sunshine Protection Act would adversely affect the Orthodox Jewish community, Vos Iz Neias reported, citing Rabbi Moshe Matz, the state Agudah’s executive director. Matz also called on Florida’s Jewish community leaders, institutions and residents to contact Gov. Rick Scott to express their opposition.
The bill is awaiting Scott’s signature; the Florida House of Representatives and Senate voted overwhelmingly this month to adopt the measure. It will still need congressional approval.
One of the major reasons for the enthusiasm is the benefit to tourism, a major industry in Florida, by providing an extra hour of daylight for activities.
But having sunrise and sunset arrive an hour later is a problem for Orthodox residents and visitors, Vos Iz Neias reported. For example, certain morning prayers cannot take place until some amount of light has already appeared on the horizon, such as putting on tefillin and the silent Amidah, or Shemona Esrei, and the ideal time for the prayer is sunrise. Under daylight saving time in the winter, that would make the earliest ideal time for the prayer at 8:05 a.m., likely too late for people who have to go to work or drive a school carpool.
In addition, ending Shabbat an hour later would hurt Jewish business owners who open up on Saturday night.
Jewish residents of Cleveland, Detroit and South Bend, Indiana, all of which are located on the westernmost edge of the Eastern time zone, have been dealing with this issue for years, according to Vos Iz Neias.
Meanwhile, US Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, was set on Wednesday to file legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent across the country. He was set to file a second bill that would allow Florida to remain in daylight saving time on its own.
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established the system of uniform daylight saving time throughout the country. Hawaii and most of Arizona are exempt from the act.