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After violent confrontations at Haifa church, rabbi calls on followers to temporarily stop praying there

Some claim the Stella Maris Church site is the burial place of the biblical prophet Elisha

Rabbi Eliezer Berland delivers a torah lesson in Jerusalem, March 13, 2019. Photo by Flash90

Rabbi Eliezer Berland called on his Jewish followers to temporarily halt their attempts to pray at the Stella Maris Church and Monastery in Haifa, Israel's Walla! news reported on Thursday.

"No one goes to Stella Maris. You can't go there until Rosh Hashanah. Let them arrange a special place for the people of Breslov and all the people of Israel so that they can pray," Berland reportedly said on Tuesday.

Recent attempts by some of Berland's followers to pray at the Catholic church have led to violent confrontations with local Christians. Some of the religious Jewish worshippers claim that Stella Maris is the burial place of the biblical prophet Elisha and have continued to pray there.

On July 23, a scuffle between the groups escalated into physical violence, with police and ambulances being called to the scene, according to a Times of Israel report.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Police Chief Kobi Shabtai visited Stella Maris on Wednesday, together with representatives of Christian churches.

During the visit, Herzog condemned recent violence against Christians in Israel as "unacceptable."

According to reports, Berland and the Israel Police negotiated a deal that, in exchange for the rabbi lowering tensions on his side, the police would create a place for Jewish worship near the Stella Maris site.

The local Catholic community has since erected fences and created a small security force made up of young men.

Rabbi Berland was previously convicted of rape and sexual assault of multiple women, as well as fraud. He is currently the leader of an ultra-Orthodox group of Breslov Hasidim and the head of Yeshivat Shuvu Bonim.

In the past, Berland told his followers that he felt a special connection to Stella Maris because he grew up in Haifa and was born in a nearby hospital.

Followers of the ultra-Orthodox sub-group of Hasidism adhere closely to a rabbi's "court" or dynasty, which is led by a hereditary "rebbe" who exercises great authority among his disciples.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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