Ortho­dox body fights day­light hours Bill

Pro­posal to make win­ter evenings lighter ‘will hin­der prayer obli­ga­tions’

The Jewish Chronicle - - HOME NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE UNION of Ortho­dox He­brew Con­gre­ga­tions (UOHC) is op­pos­ing fresh moves to change Bri­tain’s day­light hours in win­ter be­cause it would make it dif­fi­cult for strictly Ortho­dox Jews to re­cite morn­ing prayers while it was still dark.

Tim Yeo, the for­mer Con­ser­va­tive en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, is spon­sor­ing a private mem­ber’s bill to be de­bated next week which would mean a hour more day­light on win­ter evenings.

Lighter evenings would “save 100 lives a year”, Mr Yeo told the JC. “The ev­i­dence on ac­ci­dents is com­pelling.” Peo­ple who are trav­el­ling are more fo­cused in the morn­ings and less at­ten­tive in the evenings, he said.

There would also be en­ergy-sav­ing ben­e­fits to the move be­cause peo­ple would use less elec­tric­ity and heat­ing in the morn­ing than in the evening, he added. “It would im­prove the qual­ity of life for older peo­ple who are ner­vous about go­ing out af­ter dark.”

But the UOHC dis­putes the po­ten­tial re­duc­tion in ac­ci­dents, cit­ing the as­ser­tion of the Fed­er­a­tion of Civil En­gi­neer­ing Con­trac­tors that there is “no con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence”.

A num­ber of other groups, in­clud­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of farm­ers and postal work­ers, are also op­posed to darker morn­ings, the UOHC notes.

It main­tains that later day­light would mean that the 45-minute daily morn­ing ser­vice could not start un­til around 8.10am in Lon­don, mak­ing it hard to go to shul and get to work on time.

The pro­posed time change would also de­lay the recita­tion of the af­ter­noon min­chah ser­vice till af­ter 2pm in win­ter, again mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to go to a minyan dur­ing lunch-breaks.

Ad­di­tion­ally, fast-days in sum­mer would end an hour later — at 11.45pm in Lon­don, even later in the North.

Mr Yeo said: “The sound­ings I’ve got sug­gest that a ma­jor­ity of MPs are in favour, but that doesn’t guar­an­tee the pas­sage of a private mem­ber’s bill.”

Alex Gold­berg, di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity is­sues at the Board of Deputies, said: “The Board is tak­ing sound­ings from var­i­ous re­li­gious au­thor­i­ties. We have been ap­proached by the Union and we will be giv­ing it due con­sid­er­a­tion.”

But he pointed out: “There are a num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als in the com­mu­nity who sup­port Tim Yeo’s pro­posal. Road-safety cam­paign­ers would re­gard it as pikuach ne­fesh (sav­ing life).”

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