Early last Thursday, the Rev. James Adams of the Rockville Presbyterian Church called on Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan. So did the Rev. Lincoln Dring, director of the Community Ministry of Montgomery County.
Both clergymen are neighbors of the Hasidic rabbi on Rockville's picturesque West Montgomery Street.
Later in the day, a Christian woman from Potomac left a bouquet of roses on Kaplan's doorstep.
By the next day, the rabbi's mailbox was full and his telephone answering machine ran over with messages from well-wishers, Christian and Jewish, offering welcome and support.
"I was extremely gratified," said Kaplan, holding a handful of the more than 50 letters he recevied in response to last week's Washington Post article about his problems with his Rockville neighbors.
Earlier last month, a group of 28 families from Rockville's historic district lost a court battle in which they sought to prevent Kaplan from teaching his faith at his home, a house on West Montgomery Street. Hasidic Jews are ultraorthodox and follow the Old Testament strictly.
Tension remained among some of the neighbors, who feared the rabbi's house posed yet another threat to their residential neighborhood which is slowly giving way to law offices and halfway houses for the nearby mental hospital, Chestnut Lodge.
Kaplan, a young rabbi from Brooklyn, planned to move into a house on West Montgomery Street with his wife and two children. There he wanted to teach his faith, hold discussions and prayer sessions.
Neighbors who ojbected claimed Rabbi Kaplan would destroy the fragile historic character of the neighborhood. They also charged that his visitors would create a parking problem.
After the article about the neighbors' objections appeared, the rabbi said, he was inundated with offers of help from area residents.
Along with checks and messages saying "Right on, rabbi!" and "Hang in there, rabbi!," he was contacted by church leaders and by the National Conference on Christians and Jews, the Committee for Separation of Church and State and the Jewish Defense League.
"It was particularly gratifiying that support came from so many different facets of the community including clergy of all faiths and many organizations. Rockville has much to be proud of," Kaplan said.
Adams, from the Rockville Presybyterian Church located on West Montgomery Street, offered the rabbi the use of his fieldstone church's parking lot and use of the chapel for services.
The Rev. Mansfield Kaseman, director of the United Church Center for Community Ministries, said, "He (Rabbi Kaplan) was a little shy about all the publicity and taken aback by the response. But we were all naturally concerned about the situation."
Kaplan said he assured all the priests, rabbis and ministers who offered help that the matter was resolved.
"They made me assure them that I would call them if I needed any further help," he said. "It gave me a very positive feeling."
He held up one letter from a Christian woman who said she was moved by the rabbi's plight. "True, Christians will stand by your side," she said. b"We are all mispocha" -- the Yiddish word for family.