Dr. Max Sichel: Early Pioneer Jewish Dentist of San Francisco

Dr. Max Sichel

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There were not many Jewish professional men in the Early West because most adult Jews in the decades following the Gold Rush were European immigrants. It was very difficult for European Jews to get a professional education or to enter the schools which pro­vided one.

Also, it was the business opportunities in the early West which provided most of the attraction. Still, there were a few Jew­ish professionals in the 1850s and 1860s, one of them being the dentist, Dr. Max Sichel.


Dr. Max Sichel was born in 1822 in Heidelberg.


San Francisco

By the early 1860s, Max Sichel was practicing dentistry in San Fran­cisco.

His practice partner was Dr. David Steinberg.

While it is difficult to be certain, they were probably the only Jews in California in that period, engaged in dentistry.

The 1861 list of forty-one dentists in San Francisco did not include any others with Jewish names.


In San Francisco, Dr. Max Sichel engaged both in solo practice at some periods and with partners at other times.

For a decade or so in the late 1870s and 1880s, his partner was Dr. Charles W. Richards.

When the copy of Dr. Sichel’s advertisment was run in 1868 in The Hebrew, he was operating a solo practice.



The Sichel family belonged to Congregation Emanu-El.

In the 1870s Dr. Max Sichel provided free dental service for the chil­dren at the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum.



Dr. Max Sichel was active with the B’nai B’rith Order. He be­longed to Modin Lodge No. 42, one of San Francisco’s early B’nai B’rith lodges, which had been established in 1860.

Sichel was also an active member of the Odd Fellows fraternity.



Dr. Max Sichel and his wife Fanny had seven children, two daughters and five sons.

Of the five sons of Max Sichel, three became dentists: Gustave, Leo and Henry.

The first one to practice dentistry, though not with his father, was Gustave, who opened his office at the end of the 1870s.

He was educated in San Francisco.

Drs. Henry and Leo Sichel began to practice with their father by the 1890s


Dr. Max Sichel died in 1907

His funeral wa s held at the Odd Fellows cemetery.

Dr. Sichel’s obituary in the San Francisco Jewish newspaper, Emanu-El, noted that he had been both “well know and highly esteemed.”


More information can be found in the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Sichell, Dr. Max. Pioneer Jews of San Francisco, Part Two, M-Z, Norton Stern, 41/2

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