It is argued by many that some Latter-Day Saints (LDS) members regarded those of Jewish faith to be favored Gentiles, since LDS beliefs centered on notions of existing as a Latter Day Israel. Nonetheless, not all treated Jews cordially, and Jews did not enjoy religious or economic freedoms accorded to those of the Mormon faith. The conclusion of the battle between Mormons and the federal government slowly loosened the grip Mormons had on Salt Lake's economic climate, especially with regard to trade monopoly that had been established by the Brigham Young of the Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution.
Eventually, freedoms provided to local Jews allowed for an improved business climate, as well as greater freedom to worship. In 1881 leading members of the Salt Lake Jewish community came together to incorporate as B'nai Israel of Salt Lake City. The leaders secured a small lot and constructed the city's first synagogue and Hebrew School, which opened in 1883. However, echoing the schisms found among the broader American Jewish community during the nineteenth century, internal squabbling resulted in a split among the local Jewish community. Those who chose to remain with Orthodox practices separated from B'Nai Israel, and eventually incorporated as Congregation Montefiore.
The B'Nai faction built a new structure, which is the building that remains today. At the time, the Salt Lake Tribune lauded it for its grandness. A large percentage of B'Nai members were a first or second generation German immigrant. Consequently, the community chose to model the building after the Great Synagogue of Berlin. The architect, Philip Meyer, had been brought from Germany to work with local architect Henry Monheim. Meyer later returned to Germany where he became an architect in the service of the Prussian state and the Imperial household. Sadly, he later perished in a Nazi death camp.
B'Nai Israel temple is one of the last remaining tangible achievements of Utah's pioneer Jews. The importance of B'Nai Israel not only affected the local economy and religious culture but the third Jewish governor of any American state occurred in Utah -- Simon Bamberger, elected in 1916.