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6.17.16 Issue

Alan Potash, Chief Executive Officer, JFO

At the annual meeting earlier this month, I mention-ed several exciting initiatives we are planning for the coming year. One is our community study. As I have mentioned in the Jewish Press and in our e-newsletter, there has not been a comprehensive study of Jewish Omaha done since the 1970s. If you were at the meeting, you know I conducted a quick sampling of the possible study questions with interesting results. These results are not scientific but are fascinating just the same. Of those in attendance, 2/3 were born in Omaha; the majority were married women; roughly 82% are donors to the annual campaign; and 76% are members of the JCC.

We will be using a research firm that has been doing comprehensive community studies for many years. Ira M. Sheskin, Ph.D., has completed or is working on 46 similar studies for Jewish Federations throughout the US over the past 34 years. The field work will be conducted under the direction of David Dutwin, of Social Science Research Solutions, who has completed the field work for close to 20 such projects. A local Jewish community study is a research, community-building and policy-oriented project. It is designed to understand the demographic, social and Jewish characteristics and needs of the Jewish population in our community. More specifically, a community study provides a solid foundation for communal planning and policymaking. A community study typically includes data on non-Jews sharing households with Jews.

Jewish community studies tend to ask questions in three main areas:

1. Social and demographic characteristics – for example, age, geography, gender, presence of children, education and income.

2. Jewish connections – for example, organizational memberships, attitudes toward the Jewish community, donations to Jewish causes, and travel to Israel.

3. Social and human service needs – for example, needs for counseling, employment training, transportation, and financial assistance.

Surveys are the most common method for gathering this important information. We will be utilizing the list of known community members we are currently compiling, a list of distinctive Jewish names from the area and random digit dialing. We anticipate completing 600 15-minute interviews between Oct. – Dec., 2016.

Please know the entire community will have the opportunity to be a part of the study process. I am currently in the process of forming a committee of 12-15 people to work with the research team to craft the questions and assist with the community discussions. In addition, over the course of the next two months we will hold community discussion groups to create, sample and determine the actual questions used in our study. If you are interested in participating in either the committee or the discussion groups please email me at This is a dedicated email address for the study; please feel free to use this email if you wish to participate, have questions, suggestions, or concerns about the study.

If you would like to learn more about how community studies are conducted, check out the main resource on community studies The Berman Jewish Data Bank at