Having seen its sister building, Clapton Federation Synagogue demolished in July 2006 Sunderland Synagogue is one of the last remaining examples of this kind of architecture in England.
Externally, it is a remarkably complete building, designed in red-brick with attractive artificial stone dressing that was typical of Glass’s exuberant language in which he fused elements of art deco, Islamic and Byzantine decoration to achieve a colourful and distinctive whole. Glass had a predilection for colourful façades and his red and yellow ablaq striped brickwork, and arcaded porches suggest clear parallels with the deco cinema buildings of the time, buildings for which Glass was known to have affection. Inside, the synagogue is again highly decorative, demonstrating Glass’s confidence in unifying disparate patterns, colours and design. The stained glass, by an unknown firm, is the best to be found in any of his buildings, especially the large Magen David roundels at east and west. The synagogue was listed in 1999 to stop a possible demolition, but its future remains in the balance. It remains very much at risk. The building was closed for worship in March 2006, reflecting the dissipation of the once strong Jewish community in Sunderland.