The U.S. Senate’s recent passage of a bill to make daylight savings time (DST) permanent has religious Jews worried, with a major Orthodox organization sounding the alarm.
Agudath Israel of America said in a statement that the Sunshine Protection Act, which the Senate passed on March 15, would have a “fundamental” impact on the ability of Jews to participate in morning prayers.
“Under Jewish law, morning prayers, and the rituals associated with them, are regulated in time-specific ways and must be performed no earlier those certain specified times,” the organization said. “Synagogue schedules accommodate those times. With a change in DST, and the later sunrise, the times for prayers and their accompanying rituals will be disrupted.”
This change would “put into jeopardy their proper fulfillment, discourage synagogue attendance, and result in late arrival for work.”
“The issue of extending Daylight Savings Time has come up over the years on both the federal and state levels and Agudath Israel of America has joined other segments of society in generally opposing these efforts,” they said.
They also voiced their concerns as a representative of Orthodox Jewish schools.
“We shared the views of those in the school community who were concerned about children walking, carpooling or taking the bus to school in the pre-sunrise darkness and the increased risk of accidents and injuries that resulted,” Agudath Israel said. “Indeed, during the Arab oil embargo in early 1970s, when a year-long DST was attempted (but was quickly ended due to public outcry), there were numerous reported incidents of children being injured and assaulted as they traveled to school in the pitch-black streets.”
“Whatever benefit that might accrue due to extended DST pales in comparison to the cost in safety of our children,” they added.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement that year-round DST would decrease robberies, car accidents, and seasonal depression, along with encouraging more physical activity.
“Switching in and out of Daylight Saving Time is outdated, and it’s only a source of annoyance and confusion,” Rubio said. “Frankly, it’s just dumb, and there’s just no other way to say it.”
The Senate’s year-round DST bill will now move to the House, where the various issues surrounding the proposed change will be debated.
“Along with others, Agudath Israel intends to continue to express its concerns to the representatives in that chamber and make clear the negative consequences the change will have on the safety of our children and on our Jewish religious practice,” the organization said.