1) Jews now serve on scientific and military projects
in Antartica. Others work with oil companies in northernmost Alaska.
During summer there are periods when it is light all day, and in winter
there may be only a few moments of daylight. Under these conditions,
when does Sahbbat begin and end? Would it be appropriate to use Jerusalem
time, or to just select a convenient middle latitude time?
2) There is great scientific interest in space stations
in earth orbit. Acknowledging biological need, these facilities would
have artificial day and night. These cycles might be 24 hours in length,
or 32, or anything. Would the observant Jew link daily, Shabbat, and
holiday observance to the station's earth base, e.g., Houston Texas?
The same question would apply to Jews living on the moon or on other
I have no official answers for your questions, just another
opinion for your collection.
1) Jews from north England and from Alaska have told me
that at the extreme poles of the year they use the times of the nearest
established Jewish community.
2) The spaceman would probably use Jerusalem, or perhaps
Houston, as you said. This has to be qualified, however, in the light
of a recent rabbinical decision that takes account of a factor that
very few of us would ever have thought of. I heard that Rabbi Levy Yitzhak
Halperin, director of the Jerusalem-based Institute For Science and
Halacha, was recently asked by an observant astronaut assigned to
the space shuttle program how to determine the times for prayers, Shabbat,
etc. while in orbit around the earth. He ruled that the calendar from
"down here" applies only to someone orbiting in the same direction
as the earth as it turns on its axis, and only if he is travelling no
faster than the speed of the earth! What if he is going faster or in
the oppposite direction? First choice: "Don't go." Second
choice: "Consult his rabbi."