Town in the government of Moghilef. Orsha is mentioned in the Russian chronicles of the eleventh century. In 1579 Isaac Yakubovich, a Jew of Brest, farmed the customs duties of Orsha, Moghilef, and other places. In 1643 Nikolai Kishka, assistant treasurer of the grand duchy of Lithuania, having been empowered by the diet to collect taxes throughout the grand duchy, entrusted their collection to Shaye Nakhimovich of Orsha, among others.
According to the census of 1880 the town had 837 houses (of which 431 were owned by Jews), one synagogue, and ten houses of prayer. Its present (census of 1897) population is 13,161, including about 7,000 Jews. Of the latter 950 are artisans and 273 are day-laborers. The local Talmud Torah affords instruction to 200, the Jewish elementary school (with industrial annex) to 105, and the two girls' private schools to 140 pupils. The city school has 30 Jewish pupils on its rolls. The charitable institutions of Orsha include a biḳḳur ḥolim, a gemilat ḥasadim, and a poor-aid society.
- Regesty i Nadpisi, i., No. 595, St. Petersburg, 1899;
- Dembovetzki, Opyt Opisaniya Mogilevskoigubernii, ii. 95, Moghiief, 1884.