Abraham & Cecilia Goodman: Jewish Merchants of St. Helena, California

Abraham and Cecilia Goodman

Values Codes  I – E – L


Abraham Goodman was born in Hungary in 1851.

He arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio, at age 25 in 1876.

There, Goodman met and married Cecilia Rosenthal.


St. Helena

The Goodmans moved to St. Helena, California, in 1879.

They opened a shoe and clothing store on Main Street.

Abraham Goodman's Store, 1879

Abraham Goodman’s store, 1879

Abraham Goodman eventually expanded the business by constructing a duplicate store to the north. He also began selling dry goods.

In 1882, Goodman went on trial for challenging the Blue Laws, which ordered stores to be closed on Sundays.

The jury acquitted him after deliberating for ten minutes.

In 1887, Goodman took in Nathan Lauter as a partner.

In 1913, Abraham and Cecilia’s son, Julius Goodmanpartnered with Joseph Galewsky to open the first cinema in the Napa Valley, G & G Theater.

Known as the Cameo Cinema today, it is the oldest single screen theatre in the country.



Abraham Goodman had married Cecilia Rosenthal in Cincinnati in the 1870s before moving to St. Helena, California.

The couple had three children: Julius, Jacob, and Tessie.

The Expanded Goodman Store in St. Helena, California

The expanded Goodman store in St. Helena, CA, 1880’s


  • Lin Weber, Under the Vine and the Fig Tree: The Jews of Napa Valley (Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley, 2003).
  • Henry Michalski and Donna Mendelsohn, Napa Valley’s Jewish Heritage (Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2012).
  • Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley, info@jhsnv.org

Lauren Chevlen is curator of this Abraham & Cecilia Goodman exhibit.