Monday, October 07, 2002

No More Time for Saving Daylight

Last night, we changed the clocks back to Standard Time. A little early by international standards, but here in Israel, this was a major breakthrough. You see, only in Israel is changing the clocks an issue controversial enough that it can threaten to bring down the government.

Those of us who live here know that, for years, Daylight Savings Time has been a whole lot shorter in Israel than in the rest of the industrialized world. The reason: to allow those who want to rise before dawn to say the Selichot prayers that take place in the month before Rosh Hashana to have enough time to do so.

This argument epitomizes the classic religious vs. secular dialectic with the latter claiming it isn’t fair to cut short afternoon BBQ hours just to accommodate a few pious individuals in Bnei Brak.

Up until this year, the religious parties prevailed, and Daylight Savings Time (or Summer Time as its known here) always ended in early September. This year, however, a deal was brokered and, for the first time I can remember since moving here in 1994, we switched the clocks after Yom Kippur.

Now, I have nothing against Selichot prayers, and we hardly every barbeque. But I am very glad for this recent development. Turning the clocks back so early really gets my goat for a very different reason: it messes up my TV schedule.

When we’re out of Daylight Savings synch with the rest of the world, all the international television stations we get in Israel on cable and satellite get totally screwed up. So instead of starting at 9:30 PM, Star Trek: The Next Generation comes on at 8:30, right in the middle of bedtime stories. Same with Buffy and Roswell. Richard Quest, that annoying business guy who hosts CNN’s morning show, starts an hour earlier, which is OK because he ends earlier too. But so do the exercise programs, which I occasionally watch when it’s too cold outside to go for a run.

And it goes beyond TV. What time can I call friends and family overseas? It used to be a simple calculation: 7 hours to the East Coast, 10 hours to the West. But now is it’s 6 and 9 hours respectively…or is it 8 and 11? And what about to London? I inevitably mess it up and wake someone, or I catch them right in the middle of Masterpiece Theater, which I thought was on an hour earlier…or was it an hour later?

If this were a Star Trek universe, all of Earth would be using the same time system already and we’d be more gainfully occupied with fighting the Borg and the Breen. But we’re not there yet, and according to the papers, the factions in the Knesset are already gearing up for another fight regarding the ending dates of next year’s Daylight Savings Time.

As for me, I gotta run. There’s not much time to finish grilling the hamburgers before the sun goes down, and the kids are getting hungry…

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