The “Counting of the Omer, the custom practiced for 49 days between Passover and Shavout, may have ended after less than two weeks on Israeli Egged buses after complaints by passengers, including one who carries an anti-Haredi axe.
Many buses have carried digital signs showing passengers the correct day of the counting of the Omer, a measure of grain.
That sounds like a cute idea that shouldn’t be considered “religious coercion,” no more than it is “secular coercion” with advertising of products with scantily-clad women on posters on buses.
The digital signs that not only show the location of the next bus stop but also display the correct day for Counting the Omer, which was considered “irrelevant information” by passenger Idan Yosef, who posted his complaint on a Hebrew news website.
He claimed that information on the buses must be for all passengers and not just those who count the Omer. Egged reportedly has stopped reporting the Counting of the Omer, but the company has not confirmed or denied the report.
Yosef’s complaint included a nasty swipe at Haredim who do not recognize Independence Day. He wrote that it is all right if a digital sign states “Happy Holiday” on Yom HaAtzmaut on buses that travel through Haredi neighborhoods.
That kind of “coercion” is okay.
In other words, separation of synagogue and state is valid so long as it can be manipulated for one’s personal agenda.