Standard time returned today, a month and a half before Europeans turn back the clocks and almost two months before the Americans do. When most Israelis woke up this morning, the sun was already high in the sky, and when they come home from work it will be getting dark. What a waste.
Daylight saving time has many advantages, especially in a hot, sunny country like Israel. The economic advantage is seen in increased production and energy conservation because of better utilization of the daylight hours. Daylight saving time helps improve road safety, because it's better to get home from work in the light than in the dark. Daylight time also benefits families, because parents have a better chance to spend quality time with their children.
All these benefits, however, made no impression on the ultra-Orthodox and religious Knesset members who waged a stubborn campaign to cut back on daylight saving time. Their reasoning was that they wanted to make fasting easier on Yom Kippur, but any relief would be psychological because the fast lasts 25 hours in any event.
The controversy returns every year as Rosh Hashanah approaches, but things were different this year. The secular public woke up and demanded change in a situation in which a militant minority was harming the interests of the majority. A petition on the Internet against cutting daylight time short attracted an impressive 226,000 signatures.
Religious public figures such as MKs Chaim Amsellem (Shas ) and Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi ) also spoke out against shortening daylight saving time. Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas ) said he doesn't view the matter as a reason for conflict between the religious and the secular and that he likes daylight saving time.
So now we have a chance to make a change. The people, including ultra-Orthodox and religious citizens, seek such a move, and Yishai must lead efforts to change the situation. He can make his mark if he introduces a government bill in the Knesset that would set daylight time for the same period as in Europe - from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. Shas would thus prove that it doesn't aim to impose its will on the secular majority, but rather looks after the Israeli public as a whole.
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