The Jewish community in Hajnówka was first observed at the end of the 19th century when Jews began to settle in the town. Jewish immigration started when the railway station was completed which boosted the development of the locality.
It was not shortly before World War I when a Jewish community was officially established there. In 1921, 41 out of 748 citizens were of Jewish origin. Due to the prosperity of the timber industry, the city was rapidly developing. In 1937 there were already 12,000 citizens, out of whom 250 were Jewish.
The largest groups of Jewish citizens were found on the following streets: Targowa St. (nowadays ks. Wierobieja Street), Polna St. (nowadays Grunwaldzka Street), Batory Street, and Lipowa Street. A Jewish school was situated on Polna Street, as well as a bath that was built shortly before World War II (pulled down in 1940). As the elderly citizens of Hajnówka report, there were also some Jews living in the nearby villages called Dubicze Cerkiewne, Grabowiec, Nowosady, Stary Kornin, where a hatter used to live.
Hajnówka also had its small prayer house and a wooden synagogue on Targowa Street. The dimensions of the synagogue built in 1928 were 12 m by 20 m and 5 m high. It had a corrugated sheet roof above the entrance and a gallery for women with a separate entrance. The interior and the roof were painted white and blue with biblical frescoes and ornaments. The synagogue resembled the architecture of local Orthodox churches, which were also similarly painted blue and had round arches too. The entrance of the synagogue was topped with a Star of David. The synagogue had long windows with colored panes. On June 25, 1941, the Nazis set fire to the synagogue after throwing grenades inside.
Under the Russian occupation, already about 600 Jews lived in the town. During the Nazi occupation Jews of Hajnówka perished. Some were murdered on the way to Białowieża and others were killed at Treblinka concentration camp.
- Hajnowka, [w:] Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, t. 1, red. Sh. Spector, New York 2001, s. 483.
- Hajnówka, [w:] Pinkas HaKehilot, Poland, Vol. 8, red. Sh. Spector, B. Freundlich, Jerusalem 2005, ss. 288–289.