A recent push by Florida lawmakers to stick with daylight savings time all year long could end the confusion of having to change the clock twice a year but could cause multiple problems for the state’s Orthodox Jewish residents.
As previously reported on VIN News, the Sunshine Protection Act would create an extra hour of daylight before nightfall by both starting and ending the day an hour later from November through mid-March.
Having winter sunsets taking place an hour later could be beneficial to tourism, a major component of the state’s economy, but could wreak havoc on morning minyanim, explained Rabbi Moshe Matz, executive director of Agudath Israel of Florida, with neitz hachama, the earliest time to daven Shmone Esrai, taking place as late as 8:05 during the winter.
“If you are a worker or have to drive carpool you are going to need to rely on leniencies when it comes to davening,” Rabbi Matz told VIN News. “There will be days when you won’t be able to even put on tallis and tefillin until after 7:30.”
The proposed changes would also create inconveniences for Florida’s Jewish community.
“Because Shabbos will be finishing later, people who want to fly out of Florida on Motzei Shabbos will have trouble finding flights,” observed Rabbi Matz. “Businesses and restaurants who earn much of their livelihood by opening up on Motzei Shabbos will lose significant amounts of business. And there will be many days when kids will be going to school when it is pitch dark outside, something we don’t have here now.”
The bill, which has already been passed both houses of the Florida legislature, is headed for Governor Rick Scott’s desk and Rabbi Matz called upon Florida’s Jewish community leaders, institutions and residents to reach out to the governor and respectfully voice their opposition to the plan.
The Agudah has also been contacting Florida lawmakers and explaining to them why the proposed plan would be detrimental to the state’s Jewish community.
If approved by Scott, the bill would still need to be passed at the federal level.
While the time change issues may be new to Florida, Jewish residents of Cleveland, South Bend and Detroit, all of which are located on the westernmost edge of the eastern time zone, have already been dealing with this issue for years.
Rabbi Asher Eisenberger of Detroit said that on the days when sunrise is close to 8 AM there are many who put on their tallis and tefillin at the start of davening when it is still dark, but delay making the appropriate brachos until the very end of Shacharis when the proper zman has passed.
“This far west there are weeks where Mincha on Shabbos afternoon is at 9 PM and if you wait 72 minutes, Shabbos doesn’t end until close to 10:30,” said Rabbi Eisenberger. “It is part of life here.”