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

Simon and Rebecca Galewsky 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 Galewskytook an active interest in politics.

In 1884, he was a delegate to the State Democratic  Convention in Stockton.

Another son, Joseph Galewsky, born in 1879, ]was considered a prankster as a young man. As an adult, he entered politics.

Joseph, 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 20th century

In 1913, Joseph 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 and an active member of the Native Sons of the Golden West.

Joseph Galewsky died in 1959.



  • 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,

Lauren Chevlen is curator of this Simon and Rebecca Galewsky Family exhibit.