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Jewish Institutions Receive High Grades; National, State, and Local Officials Flunk
Julie E. Schwartz

The initial results are in, and the Post-Katrina New Orleans Jewish Community Survey conducted by Louisiana State University’s Department of Sociology and distributed by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans reveals strong support for the actions of local Jewish leaders, strong disapproval for the inaction of federal, state and local officials and some good news for the community as a whole.  While a preliminary sampling of survey facts and figures is included here, when the final results are in, a complete report will be presented to the community. 


LSU’s Post-K Survey was created to provide Jewish Community leaders with concrete information on which they can base plans and decisions.  The questions were designed to produce useful facts, so that practical solutions could follow.  Also, attitudes and opinions of community members were sought to give feedback on what we have done and what we should do next. Community leaders wanted to know how they could assist people in rebuilding their homes and how they could help residents regain their positive attitude toward life in this city. 


As the chart entitled “Job Responding to Katrina” shows, New Orleans area Jews believe the leaders of local Jewish institutions did a wonderful job.  Over 70% gave positive ratings to  local and national Jewish leaders and organizations, and to their own congregational leaders and rabbis.  Local Jewish leadership, including the Federation, fared especially well with 85% approval.  By contrast, survey participants rated the job done by government leaders, whether federal, state, or local, as “poor.”  President Bush earned especially low grades, with 57% of respondents rating his job performance as “terrible,” and an additional 25% saying it was “bad.”


Much of the community has been curious to see where displaced Jews (many formerly living in the Lakeview and Lakeshore areas) have settled.  Of the respondents, it appears few—less than 1%--have moved across the lake.  It is more probable that the Jews in these areas moved to the Metairie and Uptown New Orleans areas, which will be explored in the full survey report.  The survey confirms that many Jews who moved out of town landed in Texas or Georgia, with the Houston and Atlanta areas being favorites. 


Based on the survey results it is hard to say whether the Jewish community can anticipate immediate population gains.  If it does, it will not all come from those who were living here before the storm.  About 2/3’s of those who have not returned say they are “very unlikely to return,” in contrast to about 10% who say they are “very likely to return.”  There is a significant number reporting that they “haven’t ruled out returning.” 






























The LSU Survey shows that a pervasive sense of optimism is shared by the vast majority of Jews who have returned to the city.  As the “Optimism Charts” illustrate, New Orleans area Jews believe in the long-term viability of our city economically and believe that it is a good choice for quality of life as well.  Also, most of those who are here, intend to stay.


We have all seen grim statistics in surveys reporting that doctors and other professionals are leaving the area.  However, the LSU Survey reports that such fears are not well founded in the Jewish community.  The good news is that doctors, lawyers, and those in business or finance, have been just as likely to stay as others in the community.  The only group that suffered a higher loss was “professors, scientists, and other PhDs,” perhaps due to cutbacks at New Orleans universities.


On the whole, the LSU Survey results convey a positive picture for the long term and widespread approval for the Jewish response to Katrina. 


If you have not yet completed the survey and would like your opinions to be counted, go to

or, to complete the survey online.  If you would prefer to take the survey by phone, call the LSU Survey Lab, 1-800-819-9762, state that you are calling about the “New Orleans Jewish Federation Survey;” leave your phone number and the time of day you'd like to take the interview, and an LSU interviewer will call you.  The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.