Prominent Members of the Jewish Community
Jewish communities have impacted Salt Lake City culturally, socially, and politically for well over 100 years now, and their influences diversify the city as it grows. As a community Jews have made consistent efforts to engage in local affairs, defining what it means to be a Jewish American living in Utah. From politicians to business owners, and from soldiers to cantors, Jewish immigrants were successfully integrating into Utahn society as far back as the late 19th century. It was not long before prominent members of Jewish communities in Salt Lake made their accomplishments well known both within and outside of Jewish circles.
Sworn into office on January 1st, 1917, Simon Bamberger was the first Democrat, as well as the first, and to date only, Jewish Governor of Utah. His story began like that of many other Jews in Utah; he had immigrated from Europe very early on in his life, but by 60 years old had become a millionaire with business endeavors across a myriad of areas: garment manufacturer, hotel owner, mining investor, railroad company founder, and amusement park creator to name a few. Bamberger’s involvement in politics would begin around 1900 and continue until his death in 1926, during which time he would not only usher in an incredibly progressive era of legislation for Utah but would also help spread a statewide disapproval of anti-semitism. His story is one of many that encompass the ideals of Jewish peoples arriving in Utah to work and thrive within the community at large.
Read Dal Siegel and Izzie Wagner's Oral Histories, from the Interviews with Jews in Utah Oral History Collection