(UPDATED A FEW TIMES. SEE BELOW.)
Steven Weiss tells us about a proposal to extend Daylight Savings Time for an extra month in the spring and an extra week in the fall. In Weiss' article in The Forward a few months ago, he reported:
Abba Cohen, head of the Washington office of the ultra-Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America, noted that an extension of daylight-saving time in some American cities, such as Cleveland and Detroit, could lead to sunrises in November after 8:30 a.m. In New York City, sunrise would take place at about 8 a.m.What does this mean? (Note that the following is being written from memory, so I reserve the right to be mistaken. As always, ask your rabbi before putting anything mentioned here into practice.)
We are, technically, allowed to pray before sunrise in cases of need, such as when going on a trip. The standard practice, and this is what I was told by my rebbe when I had to commute from Brooklyn to yeshiva in uptown Manhattan every day, is that someone who has to travel to work or school is considered as if going on a trip and may pray before sunrise. However, there are still two limitations.
First, he may only pray after dawn and, second, he may only put on tallis and tefillin after there is enough light to recognize a friend at a distance of four amos. The first time -- dawn -- is generally calculated either as 72 minutes before sunrise or when the sun is 16.1 degrees below the horizon (which on the days in question, is earlier than 72 minutes before sunrise). The second is more complicated. The most lenient position of which I am aware is that of the Peri Megadim, who holds that the earliest time of tallis and tefillin is 60 minutes before sunrise (if I remember correctly). The strictest is the view of R. Moshe Feinstein, that the earliest time is 30 minutes before sunrise. I believe R. J. David Bleich quotes an opinion that the time is 45 minutes before sunrise (R. Bleich has a comprehensive treatment of this subject, ke-darko ba-kodesh, in the first volume of his Contemporary Halakhic Problems).
What is commonly done is that people who need to pray early put on tallis and tefillin before the earliest time (according to R. Moshe Feinstein, with a blessing, but according to most other authorities without) and begin praying, making sure to reach the blessings of Shema after the time for tallis and tefillin. In other words, according to the most lenient opinion, you start services up to 75 minutes before sunrise and only reach the Yishtabah part of services at 60 minutes before sunrise. In another 15-20 minutes, everything is finished. So, according to the most lenient position, you can be out of the synagogue in the morning by about 40 minutes before sunrise. According to R. Moshe Feinstein's position, 10 minutes before sunrise.
UPDATE: (I messed up calculating the times)
The following is a table of UPDATED sunrise information I collected on the web for the dates under question (first Sunday in November 2005 and first Sunday in March 2006):
Sunrise on November 6, 2005 + 1 hour
Sunrise on March 5, 2006 + 1 hour
This means that the latest sunrise that this proposal causes (in the cities mentioned above) is on November 6, 2005 in Detroit. On that day, according to the strictest position, men can be out of the synagogue by approximately 8 am.
Am I missing something, or is this not such a big deal? I am sure that some people will have to change their daily routines. But this does not seem quite earth-shattering.
FURTHER UPDATE: Steven Weiss commented that his article was mistaken and the proposal is to extend it to the last Sunday in November. The revised chart looks like this:
Sunrise on November 27, 2005 + 1 hour
Sunrise on March 5, 2006 + 1 hour
This definitely has the potential of making life difficult for people who have to be at work by 8:30 am (or have to be at work by 9:00 am and have more than a 30-minute commute). It will make for a few weeks of difficulty, i.e. either having to come to work late or leave work for a short time to pray.