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Białystok Jews: historical overview

By Jewish Historical Institute

Jewish settlement in Podlasie appeared in the fifteenth century. It was 1522 when Tykocin’s Duke Albert Gasztołd brought to Tykocin nine Jewish families who founded the Kahal and the cemetery. Since that time, Tykocin had become the center of the Jewish community and the largest Jewish community in Podlasie.

However, the first mention of the Jews living in Białystok estates dates back to 1658. In Białystok the privilege De non tolerandis Judaeis did not apply. Also, a city having fiscal privileges was an encouraging place for settlement.

The Jews were given by the Białystok pastor a lease of land for a construction of a synagogue. It was located on Bożnicza (now Suraski) Street and was funded in part by Hetman Branicki’s wife. The brick building was built between 1711–1718 on a rectangular plan, to which the adjacent annex was built in the late eighteenth century.

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