"Nefesh is soul, soul breath in the language of Hebrew, the language of our ancients. It is a word pointing towards that which is hard to name, yet felt and lived. We sing, pray, rest, celebrate this nefesh. There has always been a human longing to name the un-nameable, to enter into the realm of words to touch the experience of our souls. You can feel this longing in these poems Bill has created, though all the while the poet knows that the bigger Whole is just out of reach of our words. There is delight in his reaching, a delight that is alive in these poems. Nefesh is also the name of our spiritual community. Bill and his wife Leslie have been an integral part of this community, helping it grow and become. The poems in the first section of his collection were penned by Bill in important moments of growth and transition for individuals within Nefesh and for our community as a whole. On our High Holy Days in the fall each year, Bill offers a poem connecting our ancient tradition to the calls of our contemporary moment and again and again to our deeper soul longings. The poems in the second section to his children evoke the deep love of a father and the never ending profound journey of parenting. The poems in this collection invite each of us to enter into the realm of the infinite, the continuous movement with self and other and all that it opens us to. Bill, may you continue to walk your days with a poet's heart and may you continue to share your nefesh with all of us."
Rabbi Susan Goldberg
It is important to note that section 1 of Nefesh, "Poems of Worship and Celebration," are poems in the style of Walt Whitman, i.e. poems meant to be read aloud. While ambitious in nature, they mean to be immediately accessible. The poems in part 2, "Patterns," are much more ambitious and scholarly: The first poem, "Reading," is a long, compassionate exploration of every Jewish parent's fear for their children considering the history of religious persecution in the 20th and 21st centuries. The second poem, "writing," explores the intellectual and spiritual balance that is necessary for meaningful exploration of the heights and depths of life. Part 3 explores domestic and neighborly atmospheres in Los Angeles, and seeks out emotional and spiritual meaning in every detail of life. Part 4 is a brief record of the spiritual interface between Judaism and Zen Buddhism, an overlap that has engaged so many Jewish spirits since World War II. Notable is the great variety of poetic forms, from epic to haiku, explored in Nefesh.