Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Senate passes bill to make daylight saving time permanent, complicating life for observant Jews

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan bill on Tuesday to make daylight saving time permanent across the nation. It will now go to the House for a vote. If passed, the new law will complicate life for observant Jews, whose rituals are tied to the clock – prayers and other commandments that are required to be done at certain times.

Making daylight saving time permanent would mean later sunrises and later sunsets. The starkest example of this would occur in winter, when sunrise in some cities will be after 9 a.m. (Detroit, for example, will get as late as 9:16 a.m.) For people who have to be at work, it will make praying in the morning at synagogue nearly impossible.

Passage of the bill in the Senate seems to have caught some Orthodox leaders by surprise. “This is the first I’m hearing of this,” Rabbi Zalmen Gurevitz, of the Rohr Chabad Jewish Center at West Virginia University, said when contacted by the Forward Tuesday afternoon.

Gurevitz suggested that if the law passes both chambers, workplaces may have to accommodate their Orthodox employees by allowing them time to pray in the middle of the morning. “It would definitely make it more challenging. And will limit the places where observant Jews can work.”

This is one reason why Israel has a relatively short period of daylight saving time compared to other countries.

For many, “standard time” is a relic of agrarian society, when a farmer’s day was dictated by the sun. With the industrial revolution came the desire for daylight saving time to allow people more hours of sunlight to run errands after work, head to retail shops and exercise outdoors. In the 20th century, around 70 countries instituted daylight saving time.

The longer hours of daylight divided the business community. The candy industry, for example, lobbied in favor of DST, as the longer hours of daylight meant it would be safer for children to go trick-or-treating on Halloween, while the television networks preferred for it to get darker earlier, allowing for more hours of nighttime viewing.

Several states – Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – have eschewed daylight saving time altogether and operate on standard time year-round. Orthodox Jews in Georgia were last year lobbying in favor of eliminating daylight saving time altogether.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and one of the authors of the Sunshine Protection Act, said Tuesday that a permanent daylight saving time will help prevent pedestrian accidents, reduce crime and decrease seasonal depression and childhood obesity. (More sunlight means more time for after-school sports.)

The new law would take effect in November 2023.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.