Holocaust Survivor Gershon Walter Hepner – Poet, Physician, Scholar

On PoemHunter.com, Dr. Hepner (born May 5, 1938 in Leipzig, Germany, and has lived in LA for 30 years) writes: "I am a physician educated in England and living in LA. I am married to a brilliant poet, Linda, and a father of four children who are all above average, In addition I am a scholar of the Hebrew Bible, and have written a book due to be published in the summer of 2007, called Legal Friction: Interplay between Biblical Laws and Narratives. I am collecting a selection of my biblical poems that I hope to publish at the end of 2007 if I can find the time."

Hepner published a poem here about the late painter R. B. Kitaj.

Hepner writes:

We need to find the wrong, wrong notes,
regardless what the intellect
declares, and sow our wild, wild oats
inspired by the incorrect.

The good doctor posted this wish list to his Amazon.com profile, updated 9/30/007:

  1. Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living by Michael Katz
  2. The Covenanted Self by Walter Brueggemann
  3. How Do We Know This?: Midrash and the Fragmentation of Mdoern Judaism (Suny Series in Judaica : Hermeneutics, Mysticism and Religion) by Jay M. Harris

Dr. Hepner writes this review on Amazon.com: "Jacob Milgrom’s three part commentary of Leviticus cannot be commended highly enough. Not only does not contain Milgrom’s extraordinary insights into this book but it also covers all the literature so comprehensively that the book renders all other commentaries of Leviticus redundant and obsolete. Never before in has a single man been able to revise our opinion regarding a book of the Pentateuch as radically and as convincingly as Jacob Milgrom."

Here’s his poem on Walter Benjamin:

Walter Benjamin became a Marxist only when
he fell in love with one; he chose his path,
as do so many interesting, intellectual men,
because of Cupid—go and do the math.

Dr. Hepner wrote to the New York Times Dec. 4, 1998:

To the Editor:

Donald C. Smaltz, the independent prosecutor in the case against Mike Espy, the former Agriculture Secretary, has said that although he spent millions of dollars, it was well worthwhile (front page, Dec. 3).

Worthwhile for whom? The Justice Department, perhaps, which is running amok in its prosecutorial zeal?

Might an apology from Mr. Smaltz to Mr. Espy have been more appropriate?

Here’s his Jan. 27, 2006 poem "Uplifting":

Wrapped in a gorgeous gown that clung
to parts of her that were primordial,
revealing halves of breasts that hung
suspended between chords that cordial
accompaniment enhanced, she played
as though she was the soloist.
No quartet rained on her parade,
with her you merely coexist,
for she’s the diva on which eyes
are focused, while the ears are drifting.
Experiences like these surprise
those men who don’t find breasts uplifting.

He writes:

“Let’s seize foxes that destroy
vineyards, ” say the ripe young maids,
each one anxious to enjoy
boys they call in serenades.
After grazing among lilies,
when the shadows tend to flee,
loving maidens turn like fillies,
on the mountain fancy free,
but at nighttime they start pining
for the lover they can’t find.
“Is he dining now or wining? ”
is the question in their mind.
Round the city they all wander,
watchmen try to look away,
till the one of whom they’re fonder
far more than the king can say
lets them catch him, and then take him
to the house of their conceiver;
he must stay there, for they’ll make him,
Adam sleeping next to Eva.

The "gauntlet of festivities."

The people whom I always meet
at weddings and at mitzvah bars
are those with whom it’s not a treat
to be with. I don’t ask for stars
of stage and screen, celebrities
like presidents and CEO’s,
to make to me like Hebrides
an overture, but why must I
spend time at all festivities
with people for whom I don’t care,
to learn about proclivities
that thankfully I do not share.
To run the gauntlet like a cat
that’s lived too long has been my doom;
I won’t have problems like this at
my funeral, I must assume.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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