First Jews most likely appeared in Suraż in 1525. They were mainly leaseholders who leased customs duties, tolls, and other taxes. The first Jewish community most probably existed until mid-17th century, when the town was granted the de non tolerandis Judaeis privilege. Jews returned to Suraż in late 18th century. According to a Prussian census, in 1799 the town was inhabited by 12 Jews who worked mainly in trade.

In the 19th century, the growth of the Jewish population resulted in the development of the Jewish kehilla. At that time, a new synagogue was erected. The establishment of a Jewish cemetery followed in 1865.

After the end of WWI, the number of Jewish inhabitants of the town began to decrease as Jews were migrating to major urban centers and to the United States. This brought about the impoverishment of the community, which could no longer afford to maintain its administration. As a result, the rabbi left the town and the kehilla was incorporated into the community in Zabłudów. Rabbi Joachan Mirsky commuted to Suraż since 1928. It is estimated that in 1939, Suraż was inhabited by only ca. 40 Jews[1.1].

Upon the outbreak of WWII, Suraż initially found itself under Soviet occupation, which did not significantly influence the living conditions of the local Jewish population. Their predicament changed when the German-Soviet war began and Germans entered the town in the summer of 1941. A small ghetto was created in Suraż; it existed for two weeks. Two Jewish surgeons, J. Charin and M. Lenen, were forced to work with German nuns in the field hospital established in the town. After the liquidation of the ghetto, all its inhabitants were transported to the ghetto in Białystok and then, in 1943, to the German extermination camp Treblinka II[1.2].

  • [1.1] Wiśniewski T., Bóżnice Białostocczyzny. Heartland of the Jewish Communities in Bialystok Region, Białystok 1992, pp. 196–198.
  • [1.2] The text was supplemented on the basis of the materials of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage.