Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Behind Every Great Soldier

Dr. Pearl Herzog

Frances Hart Sheftall stood behind her husband as he became the highest ranking Jewish soldier in the American Revolution — and later fought for his freedom when he was captured by the British. The amazing story of a European Jewess who remained Torah-true in Colonial America.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

soldiersIn the library of Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology is a 1998 master’s thesis entitled “The Wedding Costume of Frances Hart Sheftall.” Its author, Lisa Frisina, devotes page after page to the beautiful, intricate, tzniyusdig 18th-century wedding gown. Even more compelling than the dress, however, is the story of the woman who wore it.

Frances Hart Sheftall — or Fanny, as she was called — was married to the highest ranking Jewish soldier in the American Revolution. Although she spent most of her life inSavannah,Georgia, she was born inThe Hague,Netherlandsin July, 1740, to Ashkenazic Jews, Moshe and Esther Hart (the anglicized version of Hertz). Her father was a merchant and she was raised in a middle class family.

From the little documented information available about her parents, it seems that Fanny was related to the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of England, Rabbi Aaron Hart, whose brother Moshe Hart was the founder of the Great Synagogue of London.

Fanny and her brother Joshua immigrated to America, settling in Charleston, South Carolina. There, Joshua became a prominent merchant and businessman. Through his business dealings, he developed a friendship with a young man named Mordechai Sheftall, who was from Savannah, Georgia. Joshua made the shidduch between Mordechai, then 26, and his sister, who was 21. The wedding ceremony — to which Fanny wore the gown that so captured Frisina’s interest — was held in Joshua’s home in 1761. 


 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Top-Down Theory
Shoshana Friedman Our true currency, the accomplishments we value most
Strive for What Binds Us
Yonoson Rosenblum The chareidi community represents something of an oasis
Embracing Victimhood
Eytan Kobre Combating the allure of victimhood
The Kids Are Going to Camp, the Parents Are Going Broke
Miriam Klein Adelman Mindy has to feel good; it doesn’t matter that I feel ba...
Work/Life Solutions with Carlos Wigle
Moe Mernick “Rejection is Hashem’s protection” 
How to Create a Simple 900-Page Novel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman All of us can reset the titles of our own lives
Stand There or Do Something
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP It’s called collaborative care, and it works miracles
I'm Here — Are You Ready?
Riki Goldstein Upbeat and catchy, but still makes listeners think
Back in Time
Riki Goldstein "I wish I could recapture that excitement"
Mixed Messages
Riki Goldstein The unsung craftsmen who give albums their special touch
Go in Peace
Faigy Peritzman Inner peace makes us vessels for blessing
All Work and No Play
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A life only about doing your duties loses all its color
Dying to Believe
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Emunah peshutah is the force behind Jewish continuity