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Shabbat in the Land of the Midnight Sun

August 9, 2013

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Shabbat message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, August 9, 2013.

Shabbat in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Although the Days are getting shorter, and the sun is setting earlier, it is still light out until relatively late, which never ceases to complicate the Shabbat. Since Shabbat begins tonight at 7:44 pm (Candle lighting) and is over tomorrow at 8:48 pm, it’s not too bad. Traditional Jews will have dinner at a fashionable hour (a little late for families with smaller children), and they can still get out to a 9:30 pm movie on Saturday night. 

But, you might ask, what would you do in the arctic where the sun never sets in the summer? How do you figure out when to observe Shabbat.  There is an old joke that someone once asked a rabbi what the law is for Sabbath observance in the land of the midnight sun where the sun never sets. The rabbi told him that the law was to get out of there asap!

As you might imagine, there are many opinions. Here are four of them:

1) Shabbat, in the land of the midnight sun, can, in fact, last months. (Not a very practical answer!)

2) A Jews should observe Shabbat according to the time frame of Shabbat where he came from.

3) In the Land of the Midnight Sun, the day changes at 6 pm regardless of the amount of darkness.

4) Shabbat begins when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky, which is about midnight.

 But – never fear. We don’t have to worry about choosing among these rules in Wisconsin.

Shabbat Shalom

Are there particular Shabbat foods that are traditional in your family? Let us know! jhirsh@jccmilwaukee.org