2006-2007-2010 Surveys of the Jewish Community of Greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans

Principal Investigator(s): Frederick Weil

Population Estimates:

Population estimates are described in the 2007 report, chapter 2, which discusses the difficulties of  estimating Jewish populations in general, and the added difficulties related to Katrina.  

Professor Weil estimates that the Jewish population was approximately 9,500 just before Katrina, but only 6,000 as of May, 2006; however, he notes that systematic population data were not available for these time periods.  

The 2007 survey was designed to produce a population estimate, and Professor Weil believes that the Jewish community consisted of approximately 7,000-8,000 members as of early 2008 (the 2007 survey report was issued in May, 2008).  Appendix Tables B-1 and B-2 summarize the alternate estimates of the community's size in 2008. (see also Sample Notes below for a discussion of the probably accuracy of these estimates).

The 2010 survey did not include a Jewish population estimate, since the 2007 survey was much more comprehensive, with a much larger sample size.  

Key Findings:

Three  surveys of the Jewish Community of Greater New Orleans conducted by Professor Frederick Weil (Department of Sociology, LSU) are included on this DataBank overview page.  Each of the studies - 2006, 2007 and 2010 - focused on the impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 on the Jewish community of New Orleans and the status of the recovery of the Jewish community over the five years from 2005 to 2010.  

2006 Initial Post-Katrina Survey

(1) The 2006 (June-December) survey focused almost entirely on Katrina's impact on the New Orleans Jewish community, collecting data from 707 community members in the context of the massive upheavals caused by Hurricane Katrina.

♦ The Slide set summarizes many of the key findings of the 2006 survey, including respondent estimates of the amount of physical damage caused by Katrina; the survey also includes a detailed analysis of the stress caused by the hurricane, recovery efforts and finances, and optimism-pessimism about the future of New Orleans and the Jewish community.

♦ About 80% of the pre-Katrina community is estimated to have returned; in addition to other sources of financial assistance (insurance highest), about half of survey respondents noted that they had been assisted in some way by Jewish organizations.

♦  Approximately 20% of all 2006 survey respondents had not returned to New Orleans at the time of the survey, according to the 2010 report.  Since many of these respondents had suffered higher rates of Katrina damage and displacement than had the approximately 80% who had returned, DataBank readers of the 2006 report should note that their higher levels of damage and lower levels of recovery, and their non-return to New Orleans although they responded to the survey, are reflected in the survey results, making the survey results highly accurate of the impact of Katrina.   

♦ The Questionnaire and Response Frequencies document is available as a web page and documents all results of the 2006 survey.

2007 Comprehensive Survey

(2) The 2007 survey was designed to continue the exploration of Katrina's impact and the Jewish community's recovery, but was also designed to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date survey of Jewish New Orleans since the last scientific study of the community had been completed in 1984. The 2007 survey of 799 Jewish community members was conducted almost entirely via the Internet from summer 2007 to early autumn 2007; the quantitative survey was then supplemented by a series of focus groups conducted from the end of 2007 into early 2008.

Please see the extensive discussion of sampling decisions and Jewish persons estimates in the Final Report, chapters 1 and 2, since the dislocation caused by Katrina seriously impacted survey decisions (see also Sample Notes below)

Downloadable materials include:

♦ Executive Summary & Key Recommendations (12 pages)

♦ The Final Report - an extensive summary of the 2007 survey, approximately 400 pages in two volumes.  Volume I has over 30 chapters of results, and includes (in addition to the excellent discussion of sampling methodology and weighting choices and decisions made for the study), survey results in over 30 chapters, with numerous maps showing impact and recovery throughout the report.  Survey questions and responses are included in Appendix F.  Volume II, just under 200 pages by itself, has extensive tables (stub and banner style) plus multiple comparisons of the results to other Jewish communities.

The Final Report can be downloaded either as one combined PDF or separately as volume 1 and volume 2.

 MAPS -  the 2007 report includes extensive mapping analyses of the impact of Katrina and the post-Katrina recovery process.  The maps are also available separately on Professor Weil's research pages.

2010 Survey

The 2010 survey continued the process of evaluating the impact of Katrina on the Jewish community of Greater New Orleans with a predominantly online survey with 144 completed responses.  The relatively small number of completed interviews required the data to be weighted in terms of age and gender to resemble the 2007 interviews after weighting.

Demographics, Jewish connections, satisfaction with New Orleans, recovery assessments, etc., update the 2006 and 2007 surveys, but the smaller sample size makes many analyses less reliable than the 2007 report, especially for families with children..  


Almost all data are based on Internet questionnaire responses and include Jewish communal list data primarily, but see Sample Notes discussion for 2007.

Sample Size: 707 in 2006; 799 in 2007; 144 in 2010

Sample Notes:

The difficulty of conducting a Jewish community survey in the context of Katrina's devastating impact cannot be understated, given home destruction and damage, extensive landline telephone system disruption, and Internet connection problems.

DataBank users are strongly encouraged to read chapters 1 and 2 of the 2007 Final Report which have: (1) an extensive discussion of survey sampling options for a comprehensive Jewish population survey, especially in the context of Katrina, and (2) a useful discussion of alternate estimation methods and results for the Jewish community study.

The estimation discussion notes a critical fact that makes the 2007 New Orleans estimate likely to be highly reliable, despite its utilization of List interviews predominantly.  In New Orleans, the Federation provided a $700 payment to all Jews in New Orleans.  " All New Orleans Jews were offered $700, plus many additional monetary and non-monetary benefits, including advice about dealing with insurance and government, as well as counseling and social support. It is hard to imagine greater incentives for giving contact information.... As a consequence, lists of Jewish community members in New Orleans are probably unusually complete, accurate, and up to date."

Sampling for the 2006 survey's 707 survey respondents was primarily based on Jewish communal lists, with the 2006 reports having minimal methodological discussions since the survey was not intended to provide a Jewish population estimate.  Please note that the 2006 lists contained members of the community who had fled New Orleans and were living elsewhere.  Again, Professor Weil estimates that about 20% of the 2006 respondents had not returned to the city when the 2007 survey was conducted. 

The 2007 survey has extensive discussions of the multiple sampling frames used to collect data from 799 respondents; 747 came from the Federation's and local Jewish organizations expanded lists, while 29 came only from a DJN (distinctive Jewish name) frame and 23 from a snowball sample followup.  When weighted, 93% of the data derives from the unusually complete Jewish communal lists, 3% from DJN interviews of those not on the lists and 4% from the snowball sample which asked survey respondents for contact information of Jewish persons they knew who were likely not to be on communal lists.

In 2010, the 144 completed interviews came from a sampling frame of 800 households, where 219 actually began the survey.   The lower rate of response by 2010 may reflect the possibility that respondents in 2006 and 2007 were more highly motivated to complete the survey in the immediate aftermath of Katrina than they were five years after the Hurricane.  

Study Notes:

Professor Weil's post-Katrina research on the Jewish community has several additional articles on the surveys and the recovery from local newspapers (link is also on the left side of this overview page).

Professor Weil's research in the New Orleans Jewish community is part of his broader post-Katrina research with more than 200 New Orleans religious, ethnic, neighborhood and community organizations.  

Language: English