Were any of the founding fathers Jewish or another non-Christian religion?
To the best of my knowledge none of the major leaders of the Revolution were Jewish. It would be very interesting to know what the thoughts of the Jewish population of the colonies were on the great issues of the day. Some of the founding fathers were deists. From what I have read though that deism varied widely from person to person and was opften indistinguishable from an extreme strain of congregationalism. Michael Montagne
"HamiltonRand" Scholet, Founder
Actually, Alexander Hamilton has at least half-Jewish in his ancestry as he was the illegtimate son of David Levine which was a Jew most probably of German or Danish extraction. On St. Croix, Alexander even learned Hebrew as a teenager through his family, but was raised in Christian church. One of Hamilton's grandson acknowledged his Jewish roots in a biography of Alexander. Hamilton however was a practicing Episcopalian.
If we count Deism (and Unitarianism), there were some big names among the non-Christians -- Tom Paine, of course, but also Ben Franklin and thomas Jefferson. See e.g. http://www.exmormon.org/boards/honestboard/messages/6263.HTML.
Also, George Washington's financial advisor and assistant was a Jewish man named Hayim Solomon. There's a bit more information here: http://www.internationalwallofprayer.org/A-277-What-Would-Be-The-Attitude-of-Americas-Founding-Fathers-Toward-the-Road-Map.HTML
What defines "founding father"? If it refers to those men instrumental (though perhaps not well touted in history books) then the answer would be yes, read on:
Oct. 25. 1765, a group of Philadelphia merchants gathered in the State House to sign the non-importation agreement to fight the hated Stamp Tax of the British government. The first man to step forward to sign his name was the president of Mikve Israel Congregation, Philadelphia's only synagogue, Mathias Bush.
Francis Salvador, a Jew of Sephardic heritage, the first Jew to be elected to a Colonial constituent assembly rode out to carry the alarm and raise the volunteers to repel the impending Indians attacks. He returned at the head of a force of frontiersmen only to be ambushed, shot down and scalped, July 1, 1776. Salvador had the dubious honor of being the first American Jew to give his life for his adopted country.
A few days later in Philadelphia, July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was written. A copy was sent to Amsterdam via the small Dutch Caribbean Island of St. Eustatius. The Declaration was intercepted by the British at sea. An accompanying letter with the Declaration of Independence was also intercepted and sent to London as being a secret code about the document that needed to be deciphered - the letter was written in Yiddish.
Salomon, Haym (1740-1785) Financier: Salomon immigrated from Poland (His father was a Rabbi in Poland, who moved there from Portugal.) to New York at the age of 32. He set up business as a bill-broker, purchasing and selling currencies at a discount.
By 1776 he was involved in the move for independence and was imprisoned by the British as a spy. During the course of the Revolution he was almost hanged by the British, had all his property seized and narrowly escaped to Philadelphia. In Philadelphia he began to negotiate the sale of Continental currency for hard French and Dutch bills. Asking for a nearly negligible commission on transactions, he made himself available for Congress, which appointed him official Broker to the Office of Finance of the United States, The French consulate appointed him Treasurer of the French Army in America. Salomon was able to maintain a thriving private business in addition to his official duties, despite his interest-free personal loans to such government officials as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, General von Steuben, and General St. Clair.
Haym managed to keep finances coming to the struggling Continental Army. He loaned a lot of his own funds to the cause. He is considered the financial hero of the Revolution. In 1783, after the war, a fraction of the money was actually repaid.
Nevertheless, by the time Salomon died at the age of 45, private individuals and the government reputedly still owed him $638,000. Although Salomon never presented a claim for repayment, his son, Haym B. Salomon, petitioned for such repayment after his father's death. Other descendants continued to petition Congress, although they gave up on repayment and simply requested that a commemorative medal be issued in honor of Salomon the "Financier of the Revolution."
This request was has not been fulfilled, but the Jewish community in Chicago raised funds themselves, and, in 1941, presented a park statue of George Washington, with Robert Morris and Haym Salomon on either side. Other statues were later erected in Salomon's honor in New York and Los Angeles.
In 1975 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring Haym Saloman for his contributions to the cause of the American Revolution. This stamp, like others in the "Contributors to the Cause" series, was printed on the front and the back. On the glue side of the stamp, the following words were printed in pale, green ink:
"Financial Hero-Businessman and broker Haym Solomon was responsible for raising most of the money needed to finance the American Revolution and later to save the new nation from collapse." The Congressional Record of March 25, 1975 reads, "When Morris was appointed Superintendent of Finance, he turned to Solomon for help in raising the money needed to carry on the war and later to save the emerging nation from financial collapse. Solomon advanced direct loans to the government and also gave generously of his own resources to pay the salaries of government officials and army officers. With frequent entries of 'I sent for Haym Solomon,' Morris' diary for the years 1781-84 records some 75 transactions between the two men."
Partial Sources: http://www.historycentral.com/Bio/RevoltBios/SalomonHayim.HTML
There is no evidence that any of them were Jewish. But even though they all came from Christian backgrounds, we know that a few of the founders were not religious at all. Contrary to revisionist historians who want to claim that the founders practiced evangelical Christianity, it seems several of the founders were almost secular, and several seemed to be deists (believing in a deity but not necessarily in organized religion). Almost all of the founders came from backgrounds that were NOT Episcopalian/Anglican (the so-called "established church" of England), so they would probably have experienced discrimination if they had stayed in England. That may be why they were in favour of having freedom of speech and freedom of religion enshrined in the constitution.
Jews did settle in the colonies, fight in the Revolutionary War, etc etc, but I can't honestly say the founders had any Jewish ancestry. That having been said, all educated people back then studied Bible, so they would certainly have been able to quote what they called the Old Testament.
Alexander Hamilton was first taught by a Jewish teacher while standing on a table. His parentage was in dispute and Levine was only one possibility. That he was a bastard is to be sure and because of that he was not allowed to go to the regular Anglican schools.