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Coat of arms of Gmina Orla This is not the town Orla in Lida uezd, formerly Vilna guberniya and now Belarus or Orlya. synagogue sketch. [August 2005]

Alternate names: Orla [Pol, Орля-Rus, אורלה-Yid]. 52°42' N, 23°20' E, 31 miles SSE of Białystok, 7 miles SE of Bielsk Podlaski. 1900 Jewish population: 2,310. JOWBR burial list: Jewish Cemetery. Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1880-1902), VII, pp. 582-583: "Orla" #2. synagoge. Gmina Orla is a rural administrative district in Bielsk County, Podlaskie Voivodeship in north-eastern Poland with its seat in the town of Orla. The Orlanka River, a tributary of the Narew River, passes through Gmina Orla. Normal 0 Jews appeared in Orla by 1600. In 1616, there were seventeen Jewish homes and a wooden synagogue. In 1655, 540 Jews lived in the town. Approximately 1754, a brick synagogue was established. Some sources indicate that Jews purchased Calvinist church and rebuilt it as synagogue, but others believe they built it from scratch. In 1765, the Jewish population including surrounding villages was 1,358. At the end of the 18th century, border changes due to the partitions, Orla had a population of 486 inhabitants including 102 Jews. In 1807, the population grew to 1,586 with 1,102 Jews. By 1939,1,450 Jews lived, there with a ghetto created in 1941 with more than two thousand people. After the liquidation of the ghetto, they were taken to Bielska Podlaski and then to Treblinka. The 18th century synagogue in the center of town known as the Great Synagogue was originally the entrance to two permanent wooden synagogues. Just after WWI, a typhoid epidemic effected the community. During a 1938 fire, Orla synagogues suffered. Some locals fallaciously say that the Jews, who went to the mill market to sell eggs, caused the fire. Shortly after the fire, the synagogue was rehabilitated and had been reconstructed several times. Today, the synagogue exterior was partially renovated, but inside is completely devastated with only fragments of polychrome remaining. After WWII, the synagogue served different functions like storage but was a house of culture always was contemplated. The idea failed due to lack of resources. More information and photos. synagogue video. [June 2009]

CEMETERY: The neglected, overgrown cemetery part way to the summit of a small hillock has as many as fifty stone matzevot visible. Remaining sandstone gravestones are mostly illegible. Cattle grave here. In its immediate vicinity in the past was a mortuary house. Authorities purpose to fence the cemetery. An old cemetery that was located next to the synagogue is completely obliterated with something built on it. photos. [June 2009]

  • REFERENCE: Gruber, Ruth Ellen. Jewish Heritage Travel A Guide to East-Central Europe. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1992. p. 58-59
  • REFERENCE: They Lived Among Us: Polish Judaica, a travel brochure: Arline Sachs, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


ShtetLink 2007 directions, description, and photos. "52°42'40.26"N 23°20'05.82"E. Size: c. 1 acre. Number of matzevoth: <20 (17 with inscriptions; few supports) Orla Gallery (photographed in 1988)/The cemetery is situated on an open field atop a hillock at the intersection of smaller county roads. It commands a view of the area, but with no forest for protection is open to the elements. Seventeen matzevoth (boulder-style) were counted in situ. The inscriptions on thirteen were in varying degrees of legibility, some with lichen (Images 4-6). A number of supports are also extant. The only threats appear to be natural erosion to the existing inscriptions. [April 2009]

ORLA: (I) US Commission No. POCE000123

Orla (I) is located in Bialystok woj at 52º42 23º20, 55km from Bialystok. The cemetery was located behind extant Great Synagogue in the center of town but no longer exists. Present town population is 1,000-5,000 with no Jews [1993: 4,548].

  • Town: Urzad Gminy, ul. Mickiewicza 5, Orla, Naczelnil Tel. 46.
  • Regional: Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, ul. Dojlidy Fabryczne 23, Bialystok, Tel. 41-23-32.

The earliest known Jewish community started in 16th-17th centuries. 1921 Jewish population (census) was 1167. Rabbi Eli Halpern lived here. The Orthodox and Conservative Jewish cemetery was established in the 18th century with last known burial in early 19th century. The approximate size of cemetery before WWII was 0.40 hectares. The cemetery no longer exists. The cemetery was vandalized both prior to and during World War II. Tomasz Wisniewski, ul. Bema 95/99, Bialystok, Tel. 212-46 completed survey on 30/09/1991. He visited in 1990.

Aleksander Szajkowski at ul. Armii Czerwonej 92, Orla was interviewed.

ORLA (II):     US Commission No. POCE000124

The cemetery is located by road to Orlanka, opposite hospital. Rabbi Eli Halpern and Eliezer Icchok Bachnan lived here. The cemetery was established during the 19th century with last known Orthodox or Conservative Jewish burial 1939. Surrounding villages up to 10kms away used this cemetery. The isolated suburban flat land and hillside has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all with no wall or gate. The approximate size of before WWII was 1.40 hectares and now is 0.80 hectares. The decrease in size results from agriculture. 20-100 visible gravestones with less than 25% toppled or broken and fewer than 20 not in original locations, date from the 19th century. Removed stones were incorporated into the road to Bielsk Podlaski. The limestone and slate rough stones have Hebrew inscriptions. Some tombstones have portraits on stones. The cemetery contains no known mass graves. The municipality owns property used for the Jewish cemetery and agriculture. Properties adjacent are agricultural. The cemetery was vandalized during World War II. No maintenance. Weather erosion is moderate threat, as are security and pollution.

Tomasz Wisniewski, ul. Bema 95/99, Bialystok, Tel. 212-46 completed survey on 25/09/1991. He visited in 1990.

NOTE: In his 1998 book Jewish Bialystok, Wiesnewski adds on pages 96-97 that in 1616, Orla had 17 Jewish homes and a synagogue. The 1676 Jewish population was 104 or about half. The 1897 Jewish population was 2,310 or 77%; and the pre-WWII Jewish population was about 1,500. The cemetery on the Orlanka River contains 40 gravestones. Elisz Oldziewjewicz lives in a house near the synagogue and acts as its caretaker. He has additional information. [October 2000]

[UPDATE] Web site with information on cemeteries, amidst other town details [November 2015]

Last Updated on Friday, 27 November 2015 21:59
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