The first records of Jews settling in Orla are from the 16th century, and a Jewish kehilla was established at the turn of the 17th century. A census from as early as the beginning of the 17th century (1616) reported that there were 17 Jewish houses and a synagogue in the town.

According to A. Leszczyński's findings in 1644 there were 540 Jews in Orla. Twenty years later, in 1676, there were 104 of them and (of the total population of 229), and in 1716, only 103. In 1765, the Jewish community in Orla, together with the rest of the village inhabitants, amounted to 1,358. Towards the end of the 17th century, a major decline in the population size took place – there were 103 Jews of the total number of 486 inhabitants. In 1807, of the total number of 1586 residents, there were 1,102 members of the Jewish community.
The whole religious community of Orla was 4,436 in 1847. In 1878, there were 1,812 Jews and in 1897 – 2,310. In the inter-war period, there were 1,167 Jews in the town of the total of 1,518 inhabitants. In 1939, there were 1450 Jews in Orla and in 1941 – c. 2,000.

Jews lived in Orla mainly around the market and the Great Synagogue. Next to the main synagogue, an old Jewish cemetery was located. Today, no remains of it are visible. It was destroyed during the Nazi occupation, while the matzevahs were used in road construction. In the vicinity of the cemetery, there was a funeral parlor. In front of the synagogue there were buildings of two smaller, wooden synagogues, a bath and the rabbi's house. Jews lived also in Narewska and Szkolna Streets. The last rabbi of Orla was Ela Halpern.

The first wooden synagogue was built in Orla most likely at the turn of the 17th century. A masonry synagogue was built in the first half of the 17th century.

A momentous event for the whole community of Orla, and the local Jews in particular, was the devastating fire of 1937. According to the tale, the fire broke out in the house of a Jewish woman Stowa, which ran an oil mill in it. She neglected supervising the production, and instead she went to sell eggs in the Orla market. Due to that, oil spilled, caught fire, and caused the huge fire. As a result 540 buildings burnt down, including two wooden synagogues – even the masonry synagogue suffered damage. Jews quickly undertook renovation work. Materials were brought even from as far as Łódź and Poznań. However, as the occupation soon started, there was no time to rebuild the wooden synagogues.

 

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