God’s Gang: How an Israeli is Leading the Charge for World Peace Through Cartoons

An animated pilot called “God’s Gang” brings diverse, interfaith superheroes together to battle forces of evil and learn a few lessons about tolerance and religious unity along the way.
July 3, 2024

Spiritual experiences, the likes of which affect people so deeply that they change the course of their entire lives, often occur in the unlikeliest places. For Nimrod-Avraham May, a young, passionate Israeli marketeer, there was no burning bush or an angel admonishing him to “be not afraid.” Instead, there was a crowd of Disney executives desperately looking for something, anything, that might go toe-to-toe with a cute cartoon girl and her booted monkey, as well as a certain yellow sponge that had taken the world by storm in the mid-2000s. “On stage, I stood in front of 120 Disney executives coming from programming and marketing, and I told them, ‘Why don’t you make the Power Rangers an interfaith group? They’re fighting aliens, and you have diversity there already, so why don’t you show how different faiths can work together to save the world? It’s so obvious!’” The crowd erupted in applause.

Soon, Disney was starting to audition actors and actresses for the project. But then, abruptly, it all stopped.

Such began the eighteen-year journey to make “God’s Gang” a reality. Following the difficult blow at the hands of the Disney execs who yanked the cord on his passion project, May set off on a journey of enlightenment, studying kabbalah, Sufism, Buddhism, Sumerian scripts, even quantum physics. And what did he learn? “No matter how you build a religious tool kit,” May says, “when you go down into the basics of it, it all comes down to the values that have a humanitarian aspect. It’s kindness. It’s compassion. It’s being honest and truthful.” By the time the COVID pandemic shut down the world in 2020, May decided that “God’s Gang” needed to be made more than ever. “In April ’21, I got some small seed funding from a couple of friends of mine who pushed me and told me, ‘this is your time to do God’s Gang,’ and it just started rolling like magic,” May says.

With May’s years of experience and marketing savvy in children’s television, guided by a powerful spiritual conviction that’s instantly infectious, the project came together rather quickly. He was brimming with ideas about characters and stories, but he needed a professional writer to hone the concept and pen the pilot. So he went to his friend, Omri Marcus, acclaimed for his work on Israel’s satirical sketch show “Eretz Nehederet,” who introduced May to Rob Kutner, the multiple Emmy-winning scribe who’d cut his comedic chops on The Daily Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. According to Kutner, “Omri said, ‘I have a friend who’s doing this project, do you want to take a look at it? But I gotta tell you, it’s kind of crazy.’ And I think that was his way of saying that it might be too crazy for me. But then I just looked at the first page, and I said, ‘Oh, I get this, this is perfect, this is a great thing that should be.’” Now that May had a writer on board, the rest of the puzzle pieces of making an animated children’s show soon fell into place, and, in due course, the team created their pilot.

*  * *

“God’s Gang” is a little bit Scooby-Doo, a little bit Power Rangers, and a healthy dash of Charlie’s Angels, with a worldly sense of religious unity, a goofy sense of humor, a message of love and tolerance, and a solid dose of butt-kicking. At its core are the four protagonists, an unlikely alliance of ethnically diverse, interfaith heroes envisioned by May in front of those Disney execs so many years prior. There’s a barrel-chested Muslim (Sumuslim), a heavy metal-loving Indian woman (Taekwonhindu), a Black, karate-chopping Christian (Chris Cross), and, of course, a diminutive, quick-witted Ashkenazi Jew who specializes in analytics and ninjutsu (Ninjew). The gang travels around in a van, A-Team-style, called from a divine source to battle the various forces of evil in the world, crack jokes, work as a team and learn a few lessons along the way.

The two-part pilot eschews backstory and drops us right into the action. In the first installment, “Really Mad Scientists” cause havoc at an amusement park, spurring the gang into action and giving them an opportunity to use their signature fighting moves. Taekwonhindu can communicate with nature, while Sumuslim summons a Sheherezade-inspired storytelling trance that lulls foes into a hypnotic daze. Chris Cross literally turns the other cheek, using his face to return blows from assailants. And the Jewish character? The pint-sized Ninjew fights with tefillin nunchucks and tracks enemies with his Terminator-esque “ana-laser,” a nod to the centuries-old Talmudic tradition of scrutinizing religious texts. The second section of the pilot gives us an underwater adventure as God’s Gang battles nefarious extraterrestrials who hail from a foul smelling planet and plot to kidnap Earth’s whales to counter the stench of their home world.

The pilot is polished and professional, with surprisingly accurate fight choreography, compelling voice acting, humorous and thoughtful character design, slick animation and an undeniably infectious theme song. It’s charming and fun, exciting and lighthearted—basically, everything you don’t expect from religion. But it serves as a surprisingly effective platform for an animated show that aims to balance interfaith cooperation with martial arts, not to mention a huge dose of juvenile humor. Take, for instance, the alien Reptilios’ home world, “Stenchdonia,” which is literally a flatulent planet. At one point, a geologic toot erupts from the ground, causing one baddie to remark to another, “It wasn’t me! It was the planet!” Kutner was particularly proud of that zinger. “I posted on Facebook that I just got paid to write about a farting planet, and my day was complete at 10am,” he laughs.

Viewers might be curious as to why the Jewish creators of an interfaith show decided to cast one of their own as an undersized nebbish with a Woody Allen-inflected voice. Says May, “I have many friends asking me why he’s so small, and I told them, ‘Listen, if I made this arrogant, masculine Jew, people would immediately associate it with the IDF or whatever, and they would keep hating us. But even in the Star Wars universe, Yoda is the most powerful Jedi out there, right? And he’s the smallest one of all!”

“God’s Gang” has not yet been formally pitched to studios or buyers to turn the pilot and concept into a full-fledged television series, though the project has already garnered millions of views online from around the world. There are, of course, more than a few cynical detractors who nitpick the show from the safety of the comments section, but May, Kutner, and the rest of the considerable creative team behind the project continue to amass steam, thanks to May’s infectious enthusiasm for the underlying message of the show and his indefatigable passion to give “God’s Gang” the full series treatment.

“It’s interesting,” says Kutner, “because religion is supposed to be in theory something that brings people together, but it seems to have had the opposite effect. And now it seems like a TV show sometimes is the only thing that brings people together, especially a humorous one.”

“It’s interesting because religion is supposed to be in theory something that brings people together, but it seems to have had the opposite effect.”

“We’re all about good vibrations,” agrees May. “I want God’s Gang to be the happy place for people who are looking for hope, who believe in unity, who like good humor, good storytelling, action and adventure, and that’s the bottom line.”

Scott Gold is a food and entertainment writer in New Orleans who has written about everything from foie gras to Star Wars and all points between. He’s the author of the book “The Shameless Carnivore: A Manifesto for Meat Lovers,” and once served as “America’s Bacon Critic,” which the international Jewish press found amusing.


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