Folks, I figured it out by hunting on the web. I just learned about the command 'about:plugins' if put in the address bar, it shows all loaded plugins. My, jre was not there. I then followed a link to mozilla document help and discovered that I needed to install a symbolic link to the jre. what worked for me was the following:
ln -s /usr/local/j2sdk1.4.2_07/jre/plugin/i386/ns610-gcc32/libjavaplugin_oji.so
I hope that this can help another java newbie!!!