Why, you might ask, do we put our clocks back so early when in Europe and the US Daylight Saving Time (DST) continues for another 5-6 weeks? The answer is, for religious reasons. Traditionally, Israel has put the clocks back just before Yom Kippur, the day of fasting and atonement, which may fall as early as the beginning of September (because the Jewish holidays are determined according to the Jewish calendar). The reasoning (or one of the claims) goes that it makes the fast easier because it gets dark an hour earlier (a fallacious argument, so it turns out).
However, the extent of the protests, particularly last year, would seem to suggest that quite a large section of the population, probably the majority, would favor a longer DST. This year, although hundreds of people took to the streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with slogans such as “We have come to banish the darkness,” and “Eli Yishai [the interior minister responsible for making such decisions, from the religious Shas party] is casting darkness upon us,” the protests were smaller and shorter-lived. This may be because a public committee has already recommended that DST be extended into October. Surprisingly, Yishai adopted the committee’s recommendation, but unsurprisingly, the proposed legislation has deliberately been delayed in the Knesset committee supposed to deal with it by the religious representatives who continue to quibble over it.
So, once again we dutifully put our clocks back, except for a handful of businesses that refuse to conform, such as the Mano Maritime company, which says passengers on its cruise ships will be able to enjoy summer evenings in the late setting sun. MK Nitzan Horowitz, from the secular, leftwing Meretz party, who for years has pushed to extend DST, and Yair Lapid, chairman of the recently launched Yesh Atid [There Is a Future] party, claim that once again the government has capitulated to the religious parties, with Lapid adding that the premature switch was "abusive" to the majority of Israelis.
In my eyes, this is just another example of religious coercion, the result of the symbiosis between state and religion, and of the hold the Orthodox religious establishment has on Israeli society (such as the exemption of religious yeshiva students from doing compulsory military service). While I have obediently put my clock back, my Yom Kippur will be spent on the beach, where I can enjoy a traditional summer pastime. However, I will not be able to enjoy it in complete isolation, because my peace will undoubtedly be disturbed by the thousands of cyclists, young and old, who take advantage of the empty roads (there is no public transport and few drivers dare to drive their cars) to pedal there − because that’s where we sun lovers like to go in summer, winter clock be damned.