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.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you