2000 Pulitzer nominee News, Spin

Let Sun Set-tle Year 2000 Crisis

Loose Leaves, 1st run Tuesday 16 March 1999 in The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas

By Ben S. Pollock
Copyright 1999 Donrey Media Group

The solution for the Year 2000 problem is for everyone to turn Jewish.

“Y2K,” as it is abbreviatedly known, refers to older computer programs reading years in two digits, which might assume the last ’00 and not the next ’00. The fear is that bank accounts might be erased because nearly all of us had zero balances in 1900 and that airplanes might crash because the air-traffic-control system had nowhere to go but up, back in 1900.

But to think, if not become, Jewish might be the best way to prevent millennia mayhem. This is the Jewish year 5759. It refers to the number of years, according to tradition if not scientific calculation, since Adam was born.

What a week that was.

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, is the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. In the 1999 Gregorian calendar it falls on Saturday, Sept. 11. The Jewish calendar is a lunar one, like the one that sets when Easter and related Christian holidays fall.

Thus, come September the year will be 5760. We’ll have 240 years, not 9 1/2 months, to worry about the next millennium, 6000. Jews are not known to worry compulsively.

Besides, the individualistic, disorganized approach for which Jewish people are known will prevent videocassette players from flashing 00:00 at the top of the Hebraic year 6000. Why? Because Jewish new years do not begin at midnight sharp, but at about sundown on the evening before the day itself.

So sit back and “nosh” on a snack and a beverage.

Relax, because it does not matter if the Jewish New Year begins at midnight or whenever the sun gets around to setting. This holiday occurs on the first day of the SEVENTH month.

According to the Exodus Chapter 12, the FIRST month in the Jewish calendar is Nisan, whose first day falls in this Gregorian year on Thursday, March 18 — well, the first day of the first month begins at sunset Wednesday, March 17.

Put your feet up; the millennium will be here either sooner than you think, or much later.

What do the Jewish people celebrate in their first month? Why the holy festival of Pesach, the Passover, celebrating the exodus of slaves from Egypt.

This spring agricultural celebration doesn’t begin on the first day of Nisan. God through Moses in the Hebrew Scriptures calls for the eight-day Feast of Unleavened Bread to begin on the 14th of Nisan (sundown Wednesday, March 31).

“Hey, what’s a couple of weeks,” the Lord says. “It’s the vernal equinox. Plant crops. Smell My early flowers. See a sunset. And Happy Rosh Hashana — in six months.”

We should feel commanded to post Jewish calendars next to the Ten Commandments in our public schools and open courts.

You don’t have to be Jewish to successfully debug your home computer. Just click on the Date-and-Time icon in your Microsoft Meltdown Manager or Apple core menu and change today from Tuesday, March 16, to Tuesday, Adar 28 — after switching from the “U.S.” to the “Israeli” setting.

There you go, 240 years free of millennial worry years, give or take six lunar months.

With this simple, 3,760-year change from Gregorian to Hebrew, arguments about whether the 21st century begins Jan. 1, 2000, or Jan. 1, 2001, fade in seriousness.

I am fading in seriousness.

To return to the secular, humanistic world, many people seem not quite to understand the arguments of those who boringly insist that Jan. 1, 2001, begins the new century. This is America. Let’s just outmaneuver them.

Let us agree, and lobby Congress to legislate, that next year begins not the 21st century but the 20th. This will make life easy. The 2000s are the 20th century.

This is so easy to remember, we should have done it centuries ago.

It is the basest logic. For 99 years; or 98 years; or 97 years, two months (or three months since March is the third month) and 16 days, this has been the 1900s and therefore must be the 19th century because they share the first four letters.

The 1800s comprise the 18th century. Our beloved country declared independence in 1776 in the 17th century.

Freedom is what this is all about. We will not be told what to do or what the truth is, especially when the truth is obvious like this. We know we are smarter than preceding generations.

The president will back us on this and get Congress to go along. If there is anyone who ought to want to turn back the clock, it is Bill Clinton, give or take a few months, and a sunset or two.


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