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2008-2009 Jewish Demographic and Opportunity Study of Greater Portland

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federation of Greater Portland

Study Dates: Fall 2008: RDD screening conducted to estimate the number of Jewish households and Jewish population.

Spring 2009: additional interviews with Jewish households

Population Estimates: Please see comments under Key Findings and Study Notes below.

The Data Bank's current estimates for the community are that 36,400 Jewish persons reside in 21,200 Jewish households.

Another 9,600 non-Jewish persons live in these households for a total of 46,000 household members.

Key Findings:

The key initial finding of the Study Report study was an estimate of 47,500 Jewish persons, which far exceeded the estimate of between 20,000 - 25,000 Jewish persons which had been used by Federation staff prior to the 2008-2009 Study.

  • Dr. Ira Sheskin discussed these estimates with the Federation on behalf of the Data Bank. A general consensus emerged that the published number was probably an overestimate.

  • The Data Bank's published estimate for the community is now 36,400 Jews as noted above; this number is used in the "Pockets Demographics" publication of the Data Bank and in the 2012 Jewish US population article in the American Jewish Yearbook .

The Jewish Federation perspective on the the 2008-2009 Study (released in 2011) is that: "Portland’s Jewish community is a growing, diverse population that includes a large number of Jews who are not traditionally involved with the community."

  • While traditional involvement is low among a large proportion of our community, these less involved members: (a) identify themselves as Jewish [more often culturally than religiously], (b) celebrate major Jewish holidays, and (c) have low awareness of Jewish communal organizations.

The Federation noted that engaging the members of the community who are not currently connected to Jewish life will require new approaches, as these Jews:

  • Have mostly non-Jewish friends and may be living with non-Jews and live predominantly outside of immediate area where Jewish services are located.
Sample: Total of 904 interviewed Jewish households (441 from e-mail surveys, 164 from mailed-paper surveys, and 299 via telephone interviews).

804 analyzed in slide set comparisons of low-moderate-high Jewish involvement respondents/households.

Sample Notes:

The 2008 RDD design yielded a total of 4,313 completed screening interviews, with 46 Jewish households contacted and interviewed).

An additional 858 interviews were completed in Spring 2009 which were generated from a combined (unduplicated) list of known Jewish households from 16 Jewish agencies and organizations in Greater Portland.

Slide set summary of report issued in April, 2011 briefly described the research methodology used and stressed that the data file of completed interviews could not be used to summarize and represent the characteristics and behaviors of Portland's Jewish community members.

  • Slide Set summary noted that the combined survey interview data could not be weighted to produce an integrated data file that was representative of the Greater Portland Jewish community.

  • "None of the weighting schemes [attempted] were able to accurately approximate known 'hard' data statistics (synagogue membership, MJCC membership, number of Jewish day school students, etc.)."

Instead, the data in the slide set summary are analyzed by dividing 804 interviews which had complete information on a series of questions that measured level of integration into the Jewish community - ultimately comparing Jewish respondents/households which had high, moderate and low level of involvement - on a number of interesting variables such as Israel travel, number of people and number of Jews in the household, etc.

Main Report discussion by Yacoubian expands methodology discussion.

  • Data were weighted by alternative weighting models - by by county, by temple membership and by response mode.

  • The "tri-weighted" data were used as the basis of extensive cross-tabulations and correlations in the report - which follow complete frequency tables weighted by alternative weighting schemes.

  • Yacoubian report noted: "The 4 by 4 by 2 weighting (16 sub-weights) of the Needs Assessment Survey results are ...[most] likely to be representative of the entire Jewish community of the Greater Portland area, both known and unknown."
Study Notes:

The Jewish community study report which estimated that 27,700 Jewish households included 47,500 Jewish persons and 12,500 non-Jewish persons was based on a two-phase RDD (random digit dialing) screening process in Fall, 2008.

  • This estimate was reduced to 36,400 Jewish persons by the Data Bank in 2012, after discussions with the Federation - and the other estimate adjustments were made proportionately.

  • Data file is not available to the Data Bank currently.


Survey Reports

» Main Report

Slide Sets

» Slide Set

Documentation, Questionnaires and Frequencies

» Questionnaire

Other Documentation

» News Articles: JTA and Jewish Review Articles

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