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SUNDERLAND, industrial city in N.E. England. The first Jewish settler in Sunderland was Abraham Samuel, a jeweler and silversmith. A community probably existed in the 1750s; a rabbi, Jacob Joseph, came from Holland in 1790, while the first cemetery dates from slightly earlier. Since in the 18th century Sunderland was a coal port of some importance, trading with Holland, Scandinavia, and Danzig, it attracted Jewish settlers from Holland, Bohemia (after foreign Jews were expelled in 1763), and Poland (between 1760 and 1780). The two congregations, Polish and Israelite (Dutch and Bohemian settlers), combined in 1857 to form the Sunderland Hebrew Congregation. Around the 1870s immigration began from Krottingen (Lithuania), again by way of the cheap sea route from Danzig. A larger influx followed the great fire in Krottingen in 1889. This element and other Orthodox Eastern European Jews in the 1890s formed the bet ha-midrash which has contributed to Sunderland's reputation for Jewish observance and learning. It has a yeshivah and a kolel (institute for higher talmudical studies). In 1968 there was an estimated Jewish population of 1,350. In the mid-1990s the estimated Jewish population dropped to approximately 210. The 2001 British census found 45 declared Jews in Sunderland. One reason for this apparent sharp decline in population probably lies in the fact that *Gateshead, with its famous yeshivah, is situated in the same conurbation in northeast England. Sunderland has an Orthodox synagogue.


A. Levy, History of the Sunderland Jewish Community (1956); JYB.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.