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SURAZ: Podlaskie PDF Print E-mail

also used cemeteries at Bialystok I and at Bielsk Podlaski

Coat of arms of Suraż Alternate names: Suraż [Pol], Surazh [Rus, Yid], Сураж [Rus], סוראז [Yid]. 52°57' N, 22°57' E, 15 miles SW of Białystok. This is not Surazh, Belarus (NE of Vitebsk); or Surazh, Russia. 1900 Jewish population: 368. Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1880-1902), XI, p. 593-594: "Suraż" #1. This town in NE Poland in the Podlaskie Voivodeship since 1999 and from 1975 to 1998 in the Białystok Voivodeship (1975-1998) in urban-rural administrative district of Białystok  powiat is the seat of Suraz gmina, 23 km (14 mi) SW of the regional capital Białystok. The gmina 2006 total population is 2,038 with 982 in the town. Beside the town of Suraż, Gmina Suraż contains the villages and settlements of Doktorce, Końcowizna, Kowale, Lesznia, Ostasze, Ostrów, Rynki, Średzińskie, Zawyki, Zawyki-Ferma, Zimnochy-Susły and Zimnochy-Świechy. [July 2009]

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The first Jews settled in Suraż about 1525 and resided in the town when the "de non tolerandis judaeis" for more than one hundred years forced them to flee in the 17th century. They returned by 1799 when 723 Jewish residents lived there increasing to 366 in 1897. By September 17, 1939 only 40 remained due to immigration resulting from tough economic conditions. The first synagogue in Suraż probably existed in the 16th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, a new wooden synagogue was built. Jewish homes were along ul Bialystok and around the market. [July 2009]

CEMETERY: Located in the NE part of town about a hundred meters from the road to Bialystok, the cemetery was established in 1865 although the oldest gravestone from 1792, probably was moved here from the older cemetery.The cemetery wall remains. Unfortunately, the local authorities show no interest in the deteriorating cemetery with some of the original 2000 gravestones buried under dense foliage. Victor Litwińczuk 2007 visit story. Photos. [July 2009]

ShtetLink: 2007 photos, directions, description: "52°57'N 22°57'E. Size: <1 acre. Number of matzevoth: 13 (several bases). Suraz Gallery (photographed in 1988). A masonry wall and fence are visible from the road, with access by walking a short distance through the field beside the highway to the unlocked gates (Image 1). The cemetery is walled on three sides with the back wall missing and unlocked wrought-iron gates (Images 1-3). It is partially covered with grass, low brush, bounded by fields. Thirteen matzevoth were counted, some broken, some with lichen, with inscriptions in varying states of legibility (Images 4-5). The only threat seems to be the natural process of weathering and vegetation growth." [May 2007]

US Commission No. POCE000126

Suraz is located in Bialystok at 52°57 22°57, 23 km from Bialystok. The cemetery is located at Bialostocka Street in E part of town. Present town population is under 1,000 residents with no Jews.

  • Town: Urzad Miasta i Gminy, ul. Chorowska 49, Suraz, Tel. 15-11-84.
  • Regional: Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, ul. Dojlidy Fabryczne 23, Bialystok, Tel. 41-23-32.

The earliest known Jewish community existed during the 16th century. 1931Jewish population (census) was 86. The town burned before World War I with the subsequent decline of the Jewish community. Motel Chaimowicz Perel lived here. The Orthodox, Conservative, and Progressive/Reform Jewish cemetery was established in 1865 with last known Jewish burial 1939. Lapy and other surrounding villages up to 10 km away also used the cemetery. The isolated suburban crown of a hill and flat land has a Polish sign that mentions Jews. Reached by turning directly off a public road and crossing private property, access is entirely closed by a broken masonry wall with a locking gate. The size of cemetery before WWII and now is 0.40 hectares. 1-20 gravestones, less than 25% toppled or broken, date from 1885. The marble, limestone, slate, and concrete rough stones, flat shaped stones or finely smoothed and inscribed stones have Hebrew inscriptions. Some tombstones have traces of painting on their surfaces. The municipality owns property used for Jewish cemetery. Properties adjacent are commercial or industrial and agricultural. Rarely local residents visit. The cemetery was vandalized during World War II, but not in the last ten years. There has been no maintenance. Vegetation is the greatest threat faced by the cemetery.

Tomasz Wisniewski, ul. Bema 95/99, Bialystok completed survey on 25/09/1991. He visited in 1985 and 1989. Persons interviewed were W. Litwinczuk and J. Antoniuk.

NOTE: In his 1998 book Jewish Bialystok, Wisniewski expands on the above report on p. 106 when he states that the Jewish presence in Suraz dates from 1525. The Jewish community received the royal privilege later in the 16th century. Jews were expelled but returned at the end of the 18th century. The 1897 Jewish population was 366 out of 1,599. The pre-WWII Jewish population was 15 families. The cemetery in the NE part of town has 10 remaining tombstones. Tombstones date from 1792 even though the cemetery was supposedly founded in 1865. They may have been moved from an earlier site.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 July 2009 17:14
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