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

Dr. Max Sichel

Values Codes I – E – L


There were not many Jewish professional men in the Early West. Most adult Jews in the decades following the Gold Rush were European immigrants, and it was very difficult for European Jews to get a professional education or to enter schools which pro­vided one. Also, early Jewish pioneers in the West were most attracted to business opportunities.

Still, there were a few Jew­ish professionals in the 1850’s and 1860’s, one of them being the dentist, Dr. Max Sichel.

Dr. Sichel was born in 1822 in Heidelberg.


San Francisco

By the early 1860’s, 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 Jewish dentists in California in that period.

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

When the copy of Dr. Sichel’s advertisement was run in 1868 in The Hebrewhe was operating a solo practice.

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



The Sichel family belonged to Congregation Emanu-El.

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



Dr. Max Sichel was active in 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, three became dentists: Gustave, Leo, and Henry.

Gustave, the first of the sons to practice dentistry, opened his own office in the late 1870’s. He was educated in San Francisco.

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


Dr. Max Sichel died in 1907

His funeral was held at the Odd Fellows cemetery.

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


  • Norton B. Stern, “Dr. Max Sichel,” Western States Jewish History 41/2.