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Points of View
The Late, Great Seder
My Point of View--Mar 26, 2001
© Rabbi Jack Moline

Don’t worry -- Pesach is not dead. But thanks to the lack of foresight on the part of the Jewish community twenty years ago, a minor adjustment in the calendar of the United States, to which we did not object, has made this a very difficult Passover indeed.

Daylight Savings Time used to begin on the last Saturday night in April. However, it now begins on the first Saturday night in April, which means that sundown is an hour later on the clock. While this situation has impacted the starting time for seder for most of those years, this year there is no wiggle room. Shabbat immediately precedes Pesach, and the necessary rituals -- including candle-lighting and havdalah -- cannot be performed until dark. In other words, your seder should not start until at least 8:17 pm. Oy. (I recommend a long nap on Shabbat.)

Of course, the requirement to finish eating by midnight remains -- but “midnight” is an astronomical term, not a local-time-zone standard. You can feel free to take the time you need to conduct the seder at leisure, and to conclude later than usual. Remember, it is “really” an hour earlier.

Based on these circumstances, we have adjusted the time of services on the first morning of Pesach accordingly. On Sunday, April 8 ONLY, services will begin at 10:30 am Daylight Time (which is “really” 9:30). Services will be conducted with some dispatch, and my sermon will be reduced to a few words of Torah so that we will conclude before 1:00 -- in plenty of time to rest up for the second go-’round.

Fortunately, it is pretty unusual for Pesach to begin on a Saturday night, and only some of those times does it begin after the first Saturday in April. But brace yourself for 5768/2008. Pesach begins on Saturday night, April 19, and Shabbat ends at 8:31. Nokh a mol oy.

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