Surami Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery in Surami is located near the highway. It is fenced, but its proximity to the highway results in high levels of pollution. The cemetery is on a hillside and, because of occasional landslides, some of the gravestones are not easily perceptible from the surface. Burials have taken place in the cemetery from the 1880’s to 2020.
The town of Surami—which has a rich Jewish history—is located near the main highway and along the route connecting Tbilisi with the west and south-west of the country. It is an ancient trading centre. The Jews used to live in a separate quarter surrounding the synagogue and were mostly involved in trade. The first written evidence of a Jewish community in Surami is from the beginning of, and the mid-18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, only 13 Jewish families lived in Surami, but by the 1930’s there were 2 or 3 synagogues in the town, only one of which was still active during the Soviet period. According to documents from the USSR’s Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults, the synagogue was built in 1911. The building had an area of 93 square metres and was made of stone. In the mid-20th century, up to 300 people were attending the synagogue on religious holidays and about 50 people attended it regularly.
Since the mid-19th century, an old manuscript of the Bible of the Breti (1513) was kept in the synagogue. This copy of the Bible was initially handwritten and was believed to be miraculous. It was made in 1513 in Saloniki and later became the property of the Jewish community of Breti, a town in Shida Kartli, a region of Georgia. The handwritten original was later replaced by a printed version which was also believed to be miraculous, and when the Breti Jews moved to Surami in the mid-19th century, they took the Bible of Breti with them. Later, the handwritten original was also found in Surami and is now preserved in the National Manuscript Center of Georgia.