The God Squad: A letter to Zeke

Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Content Agency on

“Hi, Poppa. I just wanted to call and tell you that I am angry and scared. The demonstrations on my campus are pretty mild compared to Columbia or UCLA. Nobody has taken over a building or attacked anybody but when I am walking to class, I hear the protesters yelling about killing Israel or killing Zionists and it scares me. I just wanted you to know. You are the expert on all this.” – (From my grandson, Zeke, who is a student on a western campus)

Dear Zeke:

I cannot write to you as an expert on anything, but I can write to you as your grandfather who loves you more than life. Someday you will put a little stone on my grave but that day is not today. Today, I get to wipe my tears that are flowing down my cheeks after talking to you and today I get to hug you with my words.

The main thing, Zeke, is to tell you what every grandparent and parent would tell every grandchild, “Don’t worry. Everything will be OK.” I told you this when you were a baby and I sang lullabies to you that my grandpa sang to me. All lullabies say the same thing. They say in a sing-song tune one verse, “Everything will be OK.” That is the belief of lullabies and that is my belief. The belief that everything will be OK is not a fact. Beliefs are the foundation of faith. Facts are the foundation of history and science. However, sometimes facts and beliefs intersect and become the same. We believe that something is true and then, sometimes, we actually see that what we believe becomes true.

Zeke, my love, this is why I believe that everything will be OK.

I believe that evil always overreaches and fails. When your great-grandfather, Sol, my dad, fought in WWII he believed that the evil of Nazism would be defeated even though from 1933 to 1945 there were many months where it looked like evil might win. After Oct. 7, the forces that want to destroy Israel and kill Jews looked strong, but they will not win. They will be defeated. They are being defeated. The people of Israel and the State of Israel will remain secure. In time, the demonstrators on your campus will go back to privately hating Jews, without signs and tents and hateful chants. One reason they will lose is that they were strong enough to begin this war but they are not strong enough to win this war, and the reason they are not strong enough is that a cult of death is never strong enough to defeat a culture of life. You must believe that Zeke. Everything will be OK.

I also believe that the ways we are different are not as important as the ways we are all the same. This was the slogan of the God Squad. I believed it when I was with Tommy – and when Tommy was always in our house hugging you – and I believe it now. The main thing the demonstrators have gotten wrong is their belief that we are all different and we cannot live together in peace with anyone who is not exactly like us. This is not true. There was once a time in the Middle Ages when Jews and Muslims lived together in peace, and I believe that those times will come again. The greatest Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, was the court physician to Saladin. When Christians expelled Jews from Spain in 1492, the Muslim Sultan of Turkey welcomed them in. I believe that Allah, the Muslim name for God, and Adonay, our name for God, are just two different names for the same God.


Someday, I pray that the tears of innocent Palestinians who are suffering so badly now because they are caught up in this war will be wiped away and they will throw off their evil terrorist overlords and embrace leaders who will make peace with their Israeli brothers and sisters. I pray for that day even though I know that such a day will not come soon. Even so, I pray for that day.

So, my dear Zeke, remember that everything will be OK, but everything will not be OK tomorrow or the next day. You need to be patient, Zeke. That is why we do not sing lullabies one night. We sing lullabies every night. I hope you can hear through my words that I am singing to you now.

Love, Poppa

(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.)

©2024 The God Squad. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.





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