R. Israel, son of Joseph, the father of R. Moses Isserles was a descendent of a prosperous family in Kracow. His father, R. Joseph, was a leader and Parnas (פרנס) in the city. His mother, Gitel, was daughter of R. Moses Auerbach, a wealthy leader in the Kracow community.23 Through marriage, R. Israel was tied to another wealthy family whose members were leaders in Israel. His father-in-law, R. Eliezer Shrentzil, married Drezil, daughter of R. Yechiel Luria, first Rabbi of Brisk. R. Luria, mentioned often by Mahari Bruna and Maharam Mintz, was a most famous Rabbi, claiming descent from Rashi.24
R. Israel was a very wealthy Jew in his day. His business affairs were not confined to Cracow. They extended to Wilna and other cities. Reinstein (? - DK) claims that the document of 1551 in which the king of Poland permitted two Jews, R. Simon Doktorowitz and R. Israel b. Joseph of Kracow, to do business in Wilna referred to the father of "R. Isserles who was the only prominent Jew by the name of R. Israel, son of Joseph of Dracow (sic - DK)," at the time. The privileges thus extended to R. Israel enabled him to deal in Wilna, even through representatives, and to hire storage houses and stores without hindrance. R. Israel, as testified by his son R. Moses, traveled on boats, no doubt for business purposes. He came in contact with non-Jews who often addressed to him difficulties in the Bible. His son, R. Moses, speaks of him as a leader and Parnas in Kracow. His charitable deeds and sound leadership are praised highly in every document available, including his monument. His wife, Dina Malka, brought in additional wealth from her family. All this wealth both husband and wife used for the purposes and benefit of the community and its needs. Dina Malka was a business woman and, at the same time, most active in aiding every needy person in the community, while R. Israel devoted a great deal of his time and money to the multiplicity of duties vested in a leader and Parnas of the community.
In the year שי"ג, R. Israel built a synagogue in memory of his wife, who had died the year before. This synagogue was built with the money that Dina Malka left him. Subsequently, this house of worship became known as the Ramo Synagogue....25 R. Azulai is in error again when he states that this synagogue was dedicated by R. Moses Isserles, as the inscription on its wall as in the synagogue book testify.
As a leader of the Jewish community, R. Israel was respected not purely for his wealth and good deeds. He was highly regarded for his scholarship was well. The titles גאון וחבר given him testify to the high esteem in which he was held as a learned man. For, in those days, titles were not conferred indiscriminately. R. Joseph b. Moses, pupil of R. Israel Isserlin and author of לקט יושר, writes in the preface that he reached the age of forty and, as yet, was not privileged to be known even as a חבר. In addition, many learned men are mentioned in the פנקס החברא קדישא without any titles whatsoever, as, for example, R. Simcha Bunem, son-in-law of R. Isserles, and R. Jekuthiel Zalman, son of R. Moses Landau. R. Moses, too, does not fail to indicate this of his father and always refers to him as "my father and teacher". In two places, he quotes his father in matters of law.26
R. Israel had five children: 1. Rabbi Moses (named after his father's grandfather, R. Moses Auerbach), known as the Ramo (composed of the first letters of his Hebrew name, i.e. Rabbi Moses Isserles); 2. Isaac;27 3. Rabbi Eliezer,28 (named after his father's father-in-law, R. Elizer Shrentzil), son-in-law of R. Solomon Luria; 4. Joseph29 (named after his father's father); and 5. a daughter, Miriam30 (probably named after the mother of R. Yechiel Luria, who was the grandfather of R. Israel's wife), wife of the well-known leader of the Kracow community and in the ועד ארבע ארצות, R. Pinchas Hurwitz....