Flowers At The Rabbi's Doorstep
Is a word which describes .. .
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ow about a bad story with a
happy ending today? A storm cloud
with a silver lining? To keep things in
perspective, let's start with the good part.
A Christian woman left a bouquet of
flowers on the doorstep of Rabbi Shmuel
Kaplan on West Montgomery Street in
Rockville, Maryland the other day.
West Montgomery Street is a tree-
lined residential oasis in the suburban
Washington, D.C. community of Rock-
ville which has been the county-seat of
Montgomery since 1776. It is the most
historic street in a historic town that has
been a four-time winner of the All-
American City award.
Several months ago, Rabbi Kaplan, a
thirty-year-old native of Brooklyn, paid
$135,000 for a colonial style house where
he lives with his wife and two small
children, and where he conducts prayer
services and Torah study for small groups
of fellow Jews.
Kaplan is a member of the Friends of
Lubavitch and his home is one of a
network of chabad houses which the
movement has throughout the country.
Chabad is an acronym–that stands for
three Hebrew words meaning wisdom,
understanding and knowledge.
The rabbi had no sooner bought the
property than panic struck (he neighbor-
hood. Twenty-eight families went to court
last fall to stop the Hasidic rabbi from
teaching his faith on West Montgomery
Street. Naturally, they claimed there was
no prejudice in their action, rather "a
mat ter of zoning." But the same man who
denied any prejudice also added, "These
people are kooks. They're some kind of
cult. My wife is scared. They're creepy."
When the case went to court it also got
into the newspapers. The court ruled in
favor of the rabbi's right to stay in his
home and conduct his classes there, and
the reading public rushed to his defense.
His mail box overflowed with messages
of support as did the telephone answer-
ing machine in his study. The Rockville
Presbyterian Church offered the use of
their nearby parking lot and the use of
their Chapel if he needed it. The director
of the Montgomery Community Ministry
paid a personal visit as did many other
clergy. Along with checks came messages
saying, "Right on, Rabbi" and "Hang in
"ft was particularly gratifying," the
rabbi said, "that support came from so
many facets of the Community, including
clergy of all faiths and many organiza-
tions. Rockville has much to be proud
One letter from a Christian woman
moved him most deeply. "True Christians
will stand by your side," she wrote. "We
are all mispocha"—the Yiddish word for
(Don McEvoy is Senior Vice President of
the National Conference of Christians
and Jews. The opinions expressed are
Kazin Volume Details the 1930s
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11 Mile and Lahser Rds. Southfield, Michigan
Alfred Kazin gave a re-
markable account of the
literary world of the 1960s
in "New York Jew." It be-
came a bestseller and will
no doubt retain reader
interest for another genera-
An earlier work by Kazin,
"Starting Out in the Thir-
ties," has just been re-issued
by Random House. In this
volume, Kazin details his
entrance into the New York
literary life of the turbulent
Kazin offers vivid
sketches of the key writers
and personalities of the day.
Among them are William
Saroyan, Clifford Odets and
Max Eastman. The reader
will also learn of Kazin's
impressions of the Hitler
era, Mussolini and the
The book, which is
written in chronological
fashion, delves into the
dark days of early World
War II in the last chapter:
"It was the summer of
1939 now. After Hitler's sei-
zure of Czechoslovakia in
March, it still seemed to me
inconceivable that Russia
would not come out against
"On the morning of Aug.
22, I was working happily
away at my book and had
interrupted myself at noon
for a cup of coffee and the
news broadcast when it was
announced that Ribbentrop
was flying to Moscow to sign nouncer calmly went on giv-
a non-aggression pact with ing the details. Hitler
Stalin the next day and that needed another week to
the Swastika was already prepare for the attack on Po-
flying over Moscow airport. land, but that morning, the
" 'No!' I shouted at the second World War had.be-
radio, It's not true!' The an- gun."
Daughter Honors Mother's
75th by Publishing Poems
The poems of Helen Lasser of Southfield, a longtime
member of Cong. Beth Achim, have been published by her
daughter, Sue Gellman of Philadelphia, Pa., on the occa-
sion of Mrs. Lasser's 75th birthday.
The booklet, entitled "Impressions in Rhyme," con-
tains poems on Mrs. Lasser's feelings about events, people
and activities from 1952 to 1980.
Following are samples of Mrs. Lasser's efforts:
See you so little, wish I could more
Are you much taller or as before?
Are you still fair and golden blond
Your hair, of which I am so fond?
But now my dear, 'cause you are three
You may have changed — could also be
That you're much taller and talk much more
But I still love you, as I had before.
* * *
Our moments together we deeply treasure
Derive from them e.qormous pleasure.
And it's also very apparent
That not for every grandparent
Such feelings were meant to be
As for ourselves here, we can see.
This blessing we humbly realize
And not just merely fantasize
But truly see it, try to protect
And graciously accept this blessed fact.