Jerusalem Post and Shabbat Times — Sad story

A friend of mine forwarded me this email. I thought it was worth posting.

“I usually do not write bulk emails, and certainly not a email that is a criticism, however this is different.

Every year for Sukkot we go to Shmulik’s cousins for chag. The *entire* family gets together in Tel Aviv for Sukkot; Shmulik has never missed a Sukkot there since he was born. This is a yearly event that we all look forward to, and it’s an opportunity to see everyone, to see how the kids have grown and to celebrate the chag together.

October 6th, erev Chag/Shabbat, I checked the Jerusalem Post internet site for candle-lighting time. It said 6:14.

Our bags were packed, our kids were dressed, and we were ready to leave the house at 5:00, giving us plenty of time for the 20 minute drive to Tel Aviv. Suddenly we got a phone call from Shmulik’s mom “Where are you? Chag is now!” I ran back to the computer and saw 6:14 on the Jerusalem Post. I refreshed the page and saw the same thing. Then I looked outside and saw the sun was setting and people walking to shul.

The sinking feeling in my stomach was something horrible. I quickly grabbed the Shabbat platter and turned it on (we had some food in the freezer at least!). The kids were crying, asking when we are going, and I felt so bad for Shmulik and his family… missing out on Sukkot together.

Needless to say I was very upset with the Jerusalem Post. I sent them an email. The email reply I received basically denied there was a mistake on their part. They wrote “It’s possible you were viewing either an old or cached page, if this is the case you need to refresh the page or empty out your disk cache (if you’re not sure how to do this, call your internet service provider).” (As a note, we had refreshed the page, and Shmuik’s cousin’s checked it from their house motzi chag and the times were still incorrect….)

I replied with a screen-capture of the page I had taken with the incorrect Shabbat times. The reply I got is as follows:

While it is no excuse, please know that we were extremely short staffed here from Rosh Hashanah and till the end of Sukkot with many of our staff away during the holidays. It’s most likely that the times were not updated at all or the times were simply entered incorrectly.

Let me take this opportunity to apologize for any misunderstanding or error on our part re: the shabbbat times posted on our site.

In future, I suggest you check out the Aish link below, which is where we actually get the times to post on our site.

http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting2.asp

Ok, the Jerusalem Post is a major international newspaper (especially their online site) and they claim to be a trustworthy and dependable source of news… yet they tell me that things are simply entered incorrect -AND they are referring me to ANOTHER website for reliable information? This is absurd (!).

While I will personally not be reading the Jerusalem Post for reliable news, I am passing on this information not to bash the Post, but rather to let you know that when checking Shabbat times, don’t count on the Jerusalem Post online. ☺

Hope everyone had a great chag!!”

[Originally published on 19th October 2006 by MIchael Eisenberg]