As rabbinic tradition mandates that the Passover seder begin after nightfall, many Orthodox Jews did not sit down to the very long ritual meal until after 8:00 p.m. this year, thanks to Daylight Savings Time (DST). The Senate has recently passed a bill, yet to go before the House, that would keep the country on DST year-round. In addition to other insalubrious effects, writes Yaakov Menken, the legislation would impose burdens on the religious and communal life of observant Jews:
With permanent DST, the sun would rise after 8 a.m. for three months or more in dozens of major American cities, and, at its latest, nearly or after 9 a.m. in northern cities like Detroit, South Bend, and Seattle; . . . permanent DST would have a significant, detrimental effect on the millions of Americans whose religious practices are tied to the rising and setting of the sun, including Orthodox Jews, who constitute the fastest-growing part of the American Jewish community.
For Jewish men, the daily morning service, shaḥarit, is a time-bound obligation—ideally observed in a synagogue and in the company of at least nine others—during the first quarter of the day after sunrise. That is why permanent DST would prove such an impediment: during the winter months, it would be impossible for those in northern parts of the country to pray in this fashion and still get to work by 9 a.m. Those with early shifts would need to interrupt their work abruptly every morning in order to fulfill their religious obligations in rushed and abbreviated fashion. In turn, they would lose out on much of what is meant to be a spiritual and uplifting beginning to the day.