Gershon Hepner

 The Conflict between a Jewish Pessimist and Optimist

Between a Jewish optimist and pessimist,
the difference in a column in The New York Times,
for all the  people who Bret Stephens’ lesson missed,
I am about to teach my readers in another of my rhymes.

Most unhappily the Jewish fan
of pessimism said, “I don’t think things can get much worse.”
“You’re very wrong, I’m sure they can,”
replied the optimist quite hopefully, as I do in this verse.

To each opponent neither seemed convincing,
unable to convince the other he was also right,
like me with all the rhyming words that I love mincing,
and rhyming rightfully and wrongly write.

In “The Best and the Worst Are Yet to Come,” NYT, 5/6/24, the column concludes with a Jewish joke:

Gail Collins:
Cheer up, Bret. The best and the worst are yet to come.

Bret Stephens:
You’ve reminded me of an old shtetl joke. What’s the difference between a Jewish optimist and a Jewish pessimist? The pessimist says, “It can’t possibly get any worse than this.”   The optimist replies, “Oh, yes it can.”

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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