Omaha, 2017: A Portrait of Jewish Omaha

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federation of Omaha

Principal Investigator(s): Ira M. Sheskin

Study Dates: November 9, 2016 through January 8, 2017

Population Estimates:

2017 Jewish community study estimated that 8,800 Jews reside in Omaha, Nebraska in 5,150 Jewish households (where at least one adult considers self Jewish).

In addition, 3,900 non-Jewish persons live in these households.  The percent of all household members who self-identify as Jewish (or are being raised as Jewish) is 69% of the total of 12,700 household members.

Approximately 1.8% of all Omaha households include a Jewish adult.


NOTE: This is the first study of the Omaha Jewish community that was not a  List-based sample.  The 2017 study is a state-of-the-art study based on random sampling principles (see details in Methodology report and summary below in Sample Notes).

For 1975, the American Jewish Year Book estimate of 6,500 Jews was used by the authors, whose list data confirmed the 6,500 estimate.


Key Findings:

Jewish Population

The 2017 Omaha Jewish population study estimated that 8,800 Jews reside in Omaha, Nebraska.  

• In addition, 3,900 non-Jewish persons live in these households; the percent of all household members who self-identify as Jewish (or are being raised as Jewish) is 69% of the total of 12,700 household members.

• Jewish households in Omaha represent 1.8% of all Omaha households.

60% of Jewish households live in West Omaha, 24% in East Omaha, and 16% in Other Areas (maps included in reports).

Population Characteristics

• 43% of adults in these Omaha Jewish households were born in Omaha; 71% somewhere in the US Midwest.

• 8% were born in another country; Omaha has 500 persons living in a Jewish household where an adult was born in the FSU.

• 2% of Jewish households in Omaha include a LGBT member.

• Median age of all people in Jewish households is 46, compared to US national median of 38 years.  

• There are 3,000 persons age 65 and over in Omaha Jewish households; 24% of all persons in Omaha Jewish households are at least 65 compared to 14% of all Americans.

• 36% of all persons 75 and over live alone.

• Only 13% of adults are age 35-49, the fourth lowest percentage among over 50 comparison Jewish communities

• Single females outnumber single males by a considerable margin.

• Education: 68% of adults 25 and over have a 4-year college degree compared to 29% of all Americans.  Income: Median Jewish household income is $75,000, compared to $57,000 nationally.

Social Services

• 25% of households contain a health-limited member, the highest of about 45 comparison Jewish communities.

• Significant percentages of households needed job counseling in the past year.

• Among households age 75 and over, the greatest need is for in-home health care, followed by senior transportation.

Intermarriage and Children:

• 58% of married couples are intermarried; this is the third highest of about 55 comparison communities

• 20% of Omaha Jewish household include children.

• 1,400 children in Omaha Jewish households (at least one Jewish adult) are being raised Jewish or part Jewish; 1,200 children are not being raised Jewish (46% of all children in Omaha Jewish households).

Jewish Connectivity:

• 3% of Jewish households are Orthodox; 13%, Conservative; 38%, Reform; and 46%, Just Jewish. The percentage of Conservative households is the lowest of about 55 comparison Jewish communities. 

• 95% of survey respondents are proud to be Jewish and 78% have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people, numbers very similar to the Pew, 2013 Portrait of Jewish Americans results.

• Compared to a minimum of over 40 other Jewish communities with comparable data, Omaha has the third lowest percentage with a mezuzah on the front door, the second lowest percentage who always or usually participate in a Passover Seder, and the lowest percentage who always or usually light Chanukah candles .The percentage who always or usually light Sabbath candles and who keep kosher are about average.

• While only 34% of households are synagogue members, 64% participated in some type of activity at a synagogue in the past year.

• 29% of households are JCC members, the fourth highest among 55 comparison communities.

• 49% of respondents feel very much or somewhat a part of the Omaha Jewish community and 97% feel very welcome or somewhat welcome at Jewish institutions in Omaha.

Jewish Education:

• Children: three-fourths of children being raised Jewish receive some formal Jewish education.

• 80% of children who went to a day camp went to a Jewish day camp this past summer; 96% of children who went to an overnight camp went to a Jewish overnight camp; 98% of children age 5-12 enrolled in a private school are in a Jewish day school.

• Adults: 26% of respondents attended some kind of organized adult Jewish education class or program in the past year; 36% engaged in some other type of Jewish learning; 55% went to a Jewish museum or engaged in some type of cultural Jewish programming.


• 53% of respondents are extremely or very attached to Israel, about average among about 35 comparison Jewish communities.

•  45% of households have visited Israel, including 25% with a Jewish group (trips to Israel, particularly trips with a Jewish group, correlate highly with Jewish behaviors.).

• 25% of households with children have sent at least one child to Israel, well above average among 45 comparison Jewish communities.


• 42% report that they donated to the Jewish Federation in the past year, 28%, to other Jewish charities; 51% to some Jewish charity (either Federation or some other charity); and 81% to non- Jewish charities.

• The majority of respondents would rather see more of their charitable gifts remain in the local community.


•  33% of respondents perceive a great deal/moderate amount of anti-Semitism in Omaha.

• 15% of respondents reported experiencing anti-Semitism in Omaha in the past year.

• 30% of children experienced anti-Semitism in the past year, the second highest among about 30 comparison Jewish communities.

Political Perspectives:

98% of Jewish respondents report that they are registered to vote.

51% of respondents identify as Democrats, 17% as Republicans, and 33% as independents.





Telephone interviews with 552 Jewish households using a multi-frame, random-generated sampling design.

• Number of interviews unweighted =  476 List (86% of all unweighted interviews) 67 RDD (12%), and 9 DJN  (2%). 

• Number of interviews after weighting =  List 40.7%, RDD frames 55.7%, and DJN 3.6%  


Sample Size: 552

Sample Notes:

Research Methodology detailed report written by David Dutwin, Susan Sherr and AJ Jennings from SSRS (Social Science Research Solutions).

Methods report describes state-of-the-art random sampling and weighting system which produces coverage of all potential Jewish households/persons in Omaha sampling area, including cell phones with area codes outside of Greater Omaha.  See details in report, including post-stratification.

Table 5 in the methodology report has detailed data on the sampling disposition for all frames separately, for all cell phones and all landline phones, and for all phone numbers used in the study's sampling design.

Response rate was 55.6% (AAPOR RR3) overall: 59.8% in landline frames and 44.1% in cell phone frames.  These response rates are considerably higher than those achieved for similar studies in other communities (see section 4.3 for details).

Cooperation rate was 91% overall.


Screener/Questionnaire used by SSRS for its CATI interviewing system is also included in the Methodology report.  The version of the screener and questionnaire used by Dr. Sheskin for the study committee is also available as a download from the DataBank, and is recommended for those who which to follow the questionnaire flow sequence without the details required for CATI interviewing.

Study Notes:

Data file is available in SPSS format both SAV and POR versions available).

Weight variable to use is "WF" -  variable # 329 -  which extrapolates data to 5,150 Jewish households.

Sampling frame originally coded as multiple sub-frames by SSRS as "phident3" (v. 327) for weighting has also been recoded by the DataBank in last variable "RDDDJNLIST."  

Language: English