The Pineles Family

Like many Jewish families, the exact origins of the Pineles clan remain shrouded in mystery. Jewish records in Galicia go back to around or shortly before 1800, but it is often possible to make well-reasoned inferences about earlier times based on these sources. The surname Pineles is somewhat unusual among Jewish families, occurring fairly commonly in eastern Galician records but not in early records for other places. For this and other reasons, it appears likely to be a single large family which received its surname in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth centuries, about a hundred years before most Galician Jews received hereditary surnames.

The Pineles family may have originated in or near Kolomea or in one of the other towns in the vicinity of Ivano-Frankivsk. The name appears quite frequently in that region, and records for one of the early members of the Pineles family mentions that he had come from Kolomea. It seems likely that members of the Pineles family moved from there to Lemberg, then the capital and largest city of Galicia (the northeastern-most province of the Austrian Habsburg Empire), in the late eighteenth century. There is reason to suggest that the family made this move together around the year 1790, but it is also possible that some of them had arrived previously and been living there for quite some time--perhaps as early as the 1720s.

By the late eighteenth century, four Pineles cousins and their descendants were living in Lemberg (now called Lviv, and located in western Ukraine). The four Lemberg Pineles cousin progenitors and their spouses were:

Jacob and Fischel were both homeowners by 1795. Jacob was a tavern keeper by trade, and Fischel was a shopkeeper. The occupations of Abel and Israel, my 5x-great grandfather, were not recorded.

Golden Rose Synagogue, Lemberg
Golden Rose Synagogue, Lemberg, constructed in 1582

The family appears to have been quite prosperous, even during these early times. By the turn of the nineteenth century, many of them had occupations such as merchant or trader, and many of them were homeowners. Moreover, most of the Pineles family was living right in the center of town, just one block southeast of the city hall and central market square. The four progenitors lived in houses almost immediately adjacent to one other on what is now Ivana Federova Street, right next to the Great Golden Rose Synagogue. Some of their children and grandchildren were living in other houses on the same block. The family gradually spread out from this central core area to other parts of the city, to neighboring towns, and beyond.

From the earliest, the Pineles family had achieved a high degree of prominence. Proud citizens and upstanding members of their community, the family made a significant monetary contribution to support the Austrian war effort against France in 1795. Fifty years later, they donated again in 1845 to support rehabilitation efforts in the wake of massive flooding. The family boasted many prominent individuals, including Israel Hirsch Pineles (1814-?) who became a rabbi in the Great Synagogue of Zolkiew, and Joseph Pineles (1822-?) who served as a medical officer in the Austrian military.