General Washington, his funds spent, his army low on provisions and perhaps close to mutiny, needed help desperately. He spoke these words at a time of peril for the Continental Army who were in a life and death battle with the British forces over the future of a brave new republic that would change the world:

Send for Haym Salomon

Salomon – apparently of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish heritage but from a family with long ties in Poland – had been arrested in the the colonies during the war by the British and sentenced to death and had escaped and fled to Pennsylvania, to the city of Philadelphia. He was a broker, a financier, and a damned f!cking good one thank the Lord. He used an innovative – but obviously not unheard of – method by basically creating a debt market in the 13 colonies war debt and using those bills of exchange with merchants and others to raise the money Washington needed to continue the fight for freedom from the shackles of monarchy.

The money was raised. The war continued. America – a shining new republic – was born.

Hate crimes have always attempted to create an “other”, someone to be hated because of their differences. And those of the Jewish faith, again and again, have faced the lies and brutality of wave after wave of pogroms. They left Europe with its burdens of history and prejudice, along with all the others, and found freedom in America. America is Jewish. America is Christian. Yes, America is Muslim, and Hindu and Buddhist. And atheist and all the rest.

Houses of worship are not merely a refuge for those seeking shelter within the comforts of their faith, their traditions, their language. They are a cornerstone – perhaps a keystone – in the glorious arch of the Republic and its constitution. They are a foundation from which the habits of a virtuous people spring and the liberties that virtue brings into life flourish.

America was built by people like Haym Salomon. It exists because men and women like Salomon sought a better life. Washington understood that in the marrow of his bones.

Let us pray for the souls of the good people lost on Saturday and find the time somewhere in the future to try and consider forgiving an evil sick soul like Robert Bowers. You can debate whether the death penalty is justified. As in the killings in Charleston at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, the death penalty will be sought. Justice will be done. Haters like Bowers and Roof are far fewer than the millions who have the strength and faith to survive the mourning they will pass through and, in the end, endure.

Our prayers for Pittsburgh. Our prayers for America. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.