The first Jewish community in Council Bluffs was an Orthodox congregation in 1881 named Bikur Cholim. It had 25 charter members, but they had neither a rabbi nor a synagogue. They held services in rented facilities. Chevra B’nai Yisroel Congregation was organized in 1903 with 14 adult male members. They acquired the present property and a built a frame synagogue the following year. On March 5, 1930 the building was destroyed in a fire. Members from the congregation saved the Torah, sacred scrolls, and other religious items.
A building committee was formed and plans were made for a new synagogue. Architect J. Chris Jensen was chosen to design the new building. The cornerstone from the former synagogue was recovered and was etched with an inscription for the new building. The new synagogue was completed on January 11, 1931. It seats 500 and was built for $26,000. The congregation continued to grow and after World War II the congregation changed from Orthodox to Conservative Judaism. English was now used in services and men and women could now sit together. Previously the women and children sat in the balcony. The congregation officially changed its name to B'nai Israel in November 1953. An addition was designed by I.T. Carrithers in the early 1960s to add more space to the front and back of the older building. Only the back addition was built, however.
Soon after the addition was built the congregation began to decline in numbers. By 1980 plans were made to disband the congregation and sell the property. The membership, however, was determined to remain in place and recruited new members. In 1989 Rabbi Sharon Steifel became the first Reconstructionist rabbi at B'nai Israel.