Synagogue in Sunderland England

Introduction

Sunderland was home to a community primarily descended from Lithuanian Jews who immigrated to the area in the mid to late 19th century.  The community reached its zenith in the 1960s of around 1,500 and it played an important part in the city helping to found Sunderland University and producing two Mayors.

The art deco Sunderland Synagogue was built in 1928 and achieved Grade 2 listed status in 1999.  The community declined as a result of a level of economic decline in the region and the synagogue closed in 2006, falling into private ownership.

The Challenge

Once the building ceased to function as a synagogue and went into private ownership, it has been lying empty and its condition has been deteriorating.  Squatters for a time used the building and it has been subject to some vandalism.  The current owner has put the building on the market and this has provided an opportunity for the future of the synagogue to be once again considered.

The Plan

The Foundation for Jewish Heritage has proposed the possibility of creating a North East Jewish Heritage Centre that would present the history and culture of the Jews living in that region of England.  This has been well received by the Sunderland Jewish diaspora and the local heritage community.

To take this forward, funding is now being sought to conduct an ‘options appraisal’ which will assess various options for the future use of the building including the Heritage Centre idea.  Part of this assessment will be considering future funding opportunities including the possibility of making a Heritage Lottery Fund bid.