Phillip N. Lilienthal, Jewish Pioneer Banker and Philanthropist

Phillip N. Lilienthal

Phillip N. Lilienthal, Bank, San Francisco

Phillip N. Lilienthal, Bank, San Francisco

Values Codes: I-H-E-L-P


Phillip  Lilienthal was born in New York City, in 1850, son of Dr. Max Lilienthal, a leading Rabbi in the Reform Movement.

Phillip  Lilienthal was educated in Cincinnati, Ohio until the age of 14, when he went to work for Stix, Krause & Co.

At the age of 17 he went to New York where he entered the office of J. W. Seligman & Co., the famous firm of Jewish bankers.



Phillip Lilienthal rose quickly through the ranks and in 1869, at the age of 19, Phillip Lilienthal was sent to San Francisco to take charge of a Seligman Bank that had been founded during the Civil War.


In 1873, Phillip  Lilienthal founded the Anglo-Californian Bank, with Ignatz Sheinhart as his co-manager.

Phillip  Lilienthal founded the Porterville Bank of Porterville, California and served as its President.

He was founding President of the Bank of South San Francisco, the Bank of Pleasanton, the Bank of Willits, and the Bank of Eureka.

He was a director of the California Title Insurance & Trust Company of San Francisco.



“No important public or semi-public movement in the city was ever considered well managed unless it had behind it in some capacity, this resourceful and energetic man.”  —Rabbi Martin Meyer, 1916.

Phillip  Lilienthal was one of the men who made the Midwinter Fair of 1894 a success.

Midwinter Fair SF, 1894, Vintage Postcard

Midwinter Fair SF, 1894, Vintage Postcard

He also served as Director of the San Francisco Free Library, and was President of the Philharmonic Society.



Phillip  Lilienthal was a member of Temple Emanu-El, and an important supporter of most Jewish charities.

When the Russian persecutions drove hundreds of thousands of Jews to America, Phillip  Lilienthal, along with Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger and others founded the Russian Jewish Alliance

Phillip  Lilienthal, then Director of the Union Iron Works, procured work for hundreds of these Russian Jews.



Phillip  Lilienthal was a prominent member of the Bohemian Family, The Pacific Union, The Union League, The Commonwealth, and the Concordia-Argonaut Clubs.


Phillip  Lilienthal married Miss Isabella Seligman, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Seligman of New York – his first banking employer – and of “Our Crowd” fame.

Together they had 4 children: Joesph L. Lilienthal, Elsie, wife of Dr. Edwin Beer, Phillip N. Lilienthal, Jr., and Theodore Max Lilienthal.


Phillip N.  Lilienthal died in an automobile accident in 1908.

“He was a man in the noblest sense of the term. Jew to the core, his heart throbbed in loving sympathy for the unfortunate of every creed.” –Rabbi Martin Meyer, 1916.



  • The Jews of San Francisco, by Martin A. Meyer, Ph.D., Emanu-El, San Francisco, June 1916.
  • Visions of Reform, Congregation Emanu-El and the Jews of San Francisco, 1849- – 1999, Fred Rosenbaum, Judah L. Magnus Museum, Berkeley, CA, 2000.

David Epstein is the Curator for this Henry Greenberg Exhibit

Other family information and pictures would be greatly appreciated.


Jews in the News

   About this Time

Civil War Veterans in San Francisco — 1887

Commander Solomon Cohen, bless his heart, is a noble type of a Jew and a Maccabee. He was elected this week as Grand Commander of James A. Garfield Post, No. 34, Grand Army of the Republic, by acclamation. He is a credit to the army, and particularly to the Jews.

Comrade Cohen succeeded that grand Jew, General Lucius Salomon, formerly county clerk of Chicago, and subsequently governor of Washington Territory, now a shining light among the legal luminaries of this State and an earnest worker in the Republican ranks.

—American Israelite, Cincinnati, February 4, 1887, WSJH, Vol. 6, #2