Simon and Rebecca Galewsky Family, Early Jewish Pioneers of St. Helena, California

Simon and Rebecca Galewsky and Their Family

Joe Galewsky, St. Helena, California

Joe Galewsky, St. Helena, California

Values Codes  I-E-L


Prussian born Simon Galewsky (Galewski) and Rebecca Isaacs Galewsky established a general store on Main Street in St. Helena, California in 1858.

Simon Galewsky died of tuberculosis in 1868 at the age of 37.


The 1880 census shows Rebecca Galewsky and her children living in the St. Helena home of David Galewsky, Simon’s brother, who took over the store.

Rebecca Galewsky died in 1904.

According to her obituary in the St. Helena Star:

“Mrs. Galewsky’s  great characteristic was kindness of the heart and we have never known any person more kindly disposed to all than she.

“She was a kind, generous and good woman and the world is better for her having lived in it.”



Simon and Rebecca Galewsky’s son, Emanuel Galewsky, took an active interest in politics.

In 1884, Emanuel Galewsky was a Delegate to the State Democratic  Convention in Stockton.


Another son, Joseph Galewsky, was born in 1879, and was considered a prankster as a young man.

As an adult, he entered politics.

Joseph Galewsky, a fashionable and lifelong bachelor was appointed Postmaster of St. Helena.

He ran the post office from his popular stationary and bookstore which he owned for sixty years.

Main Street, St. Helena, Turn of the Century. (Note Boat)

In 1913, he partnered with Julius Goodman, son of the prominent Abraham Goodman of St. Helena, to open the Napa Valley’s first cinema, the G & G Theater, now the Cameo Cinema.



Joseph Galewsky was a Mason.

He was also an active member of the Native Sons of the Golden West.


Joseph Galewsky died in 1959.



For more information, see:

Under the Vine and the Fig Tree: The Jews of Napa Valley, by Lin Weber, ISBN 0-9667014-4-5, 2003

Napa Valley’s Jewish Heritage, by Henry Michalski and Donna Mendelsohn, ISBN 978-0-7385-8898-8 Arcadia Publishers

Both books are available thru the Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley,




Click on photos to enlarge them.

Lauren Chevlen is curator of this Galewsky Family Exhibit.