Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the

Schmelkes Family

Prominent rabbinic family. Several members of the Schmelkes family served as rabbis and community leaders in Galicia from the middle of the nineteenth century. Most prominent among them were the rabbis of Przemyśl: Yitsḥak Yehudah Schmelkes (1828–1905) and his nephew Gedalyah Schmelkes (1857–1928).

Yitsḥak Yehudah Schmelkes served as rabbi in Żurawno (until about 1858), and subsequently in Brzeżany (until 1869) and Przemyśl (1869–1894). He was later appointed rabbi of Lwów and remained in that position until his death. He was involved in religious education and established a yeshiva in Przemyśl. Well known as a halakhic authority even outside Galicia, he saw the publication of five of the six volumes of his responsa, Bet Yitsḥak, during his lifetime. Gedalyah Schmelkes served as rabbi of Kołomyja from 1898, and only in 1904 did he succeed in his bid to be chosen as rabbi of Przemyśl. He had received a formal education, studying secular subjects and languages, and was therefore viewed in conservative circles as an innovator.

The Schmelkes family supported Ḥibat Tsiyon and later the Zionist movement. During the 1890s, Yitsḥak Yehudah Schmelkes and his brother Mordekhai supported the Ahavat Tsiyon Society in Tarnów. Gedalyah Schmelkes was included among the founders of Mizraḥi in 1904, and during the controversy regarding the cultural activities of the Zionist Organization following the Tenth Zionist Congress (1911), he opposed Mizraḥi’s secession from the Zionist Organization.

Suggested Reading

Abraham Kahana, Divre zikaron (Przemyśl, Pol., 1933); Yitsḥak Raphael, ed., “Shmelkish, Gedalyah,” Entsiklopedyah shel ha-tsiyonut ha-datit, vol. 5, cols. 793–796 (Jerusalem, 1983); Me’ir Vunder, “Shmelkes,” in Me’ore Galitsyah: Entsiklopedyah le-ḥakhme Galitsyah, vol. 5, cols. 326–341 (Jerusalem, 1997).



Translated from Hebrew by David Strauss