One of life’s simple pleasures is leaving work at the end of a hard day and,
instead of encountering darkness, finding a sunny sky.
Whether used for a
pre-evening walk, a sporting event or bike ride with the children, or a quick
jaunt to the beach, that extra daylight is like a gift from above.
Friday at 2 a.m. we move the clocks ahead an hour, as Israel enacts daylight
saving time, enabling the above scenarios to take place for the next 193 days,
until October 6.
This is the longest period of daylight saving time in
Israel’s history, the result of legislation passed last year which sets DST as
beginning at the end of March and ending at the beginning of
That extends the period two weeks later than last year’s, when
it ended just before Yom Kippur. This year DST ends three weeks after Yom
The ongoing struggle regarding DST has been due to opposition
from religious parties, which want to ensure that the period ends before Yom
Kippur to enable a fast that ends earlier in the day. On the other side of the
fence have been legislators pushing to extend DST even further, due to its
benefits in energy saving (lights get turned on later) and a reduction in the
number of traffic accidents (more driving during daylight).
been many international studies carried out with conflicting findings as to
exactly how much, if any, energy is saved by DST, considering the extra use of
air conditioners during the daylight hours.
The current legislation
extending DST to 193 days came as a result of a committee set up by then
interior minister Eli Yishai in the wake of public protest last fall and a
petition signed by nearly 400,000 citizens calling for Israel to adopt the
European model of 218 days of daylight saving time.
“The decision [to
move the clocks back before Yom Kippur] means millions of working citizens in
Israel will return home from work in the dark, and will rise in the morning
after the sun has warmed up our already-hot country,” said the
“Standard time cuts short the quality time that parents have
with their children, adds to the risk of traffic accidents because of the
additional travel in the dark, puts the local time at variance with the time in
Europe and the rest of the world, and costs the Israeli economy hundreds of
millions of shekels.”
Yishai, whose Shas party opposed extended DST,
adopted the committee’s recommendations to compromise at the current 193 days,
despite its findings that the energy savings and drop in traffic accidents were
negligible. But for many, the extra hour of daylight was all that mattered, and
for some, it’s still not enough.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) has already
proposed alternative legislation calling on Israel to align with the European
custom and extend DST until the beginning of November. The issue will likely
become a battle in the new Knesset, where haredi factions will undoubtedly
oppose the plan.
“The last Knesset saw a meaningful, yet partial,
success,” Horowitz said recently. “The Israeli public deserves an additional
month of daylight, a month that would lower the number of accidents and give
people an additional hour of light during the day’s most important
Horowitz and the Israel Hofshit (Be Free Israel) movement, whose
mission is to promote freedom of religion and pluralism in Israel, have sent
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar a letter requesting he reexamine the
“The decision taken by the previous government has still left
Israel trailing behind the rest of the developed world in regards to daylight
saving time and effective utilization of daylight,” Miki Gitzin, the movement’s
general manger, said.
Sa’ar, who will ultimately be the spearhead for any
future bill regarding DST, told reporters last week that he will be reexamining
We urge Sa’ar and the new government to take the partial DST
reform that was achieved in the last government and finally align Israel with
its European neighbors. This is one area in which more daylight between us is
better for all of us.