The 2007 Portland Maine Jewish Community Study

Sponsor(s): Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine

Principal Investigator(s): Ira M. Sheskin

Study Dates: June, 2007

Population Estimates:

The 2007 Jewish Community Study results indicate that there are 8,350 Jewish persons living in 4,300 Jewish households in York and Cumberland Counties in Maine ("Southern Maine"). An additional 3,475 non-Jews live in these households; they represent 29% of the the 11,825 people in living in Portland, Maine Jewish households.

Key Findings:

Southern Maine (York and Cumberland Counties) is the largest Jewish community in the state. Jewish households represent 2.2% of all Southern Maine households; Jewish persons represent 2.5% of all people living in Southern Maine.

♦ Dr. Sheskin also estimated the Jewish population in 2000 by a DJN-estimation process. He concluded that the number of Jewish households in Southern Maine has remained the same in recent years: both the 2000 DJN estimate and the 2007 RDD estimate estimated a total of 4,300 Jewish households in Southern Maine.

♦ 29% of Jewish respondents moved to Southern Maine in the 10 years preceding the study; 10% of respondents moved to the area in the five years preceding the study.

26% of all people in Jewish households in Southern Maine are children under age 18, and 16% are seniors 65 and over.

35% of Jewish respondents identify as Reform Jews, 14% as Conservative, 2% as Orthodox, 1% as Reconstructionist, and 48% as just Jewish. The 48% just Jewish is the highest recorded for any Jewish community study.

33% of Jewish households report current synagogue membership. 15% of Jewish respondents attend synagogue once per month or more. 17% attend a few times per year, 22% attend only on High Holidays, and 45% never attend synagogue.

♦21% of Jewish households belong to a Jewish organization other than a synagogue or a JCC. 13% of Jewish respondents state that they "very much" feel a part of the Southern Maine Jewish community, while another 23% state that they feel somewhat a part of the local Jewish community.

In regards to traditional Jewish ritual observance, 47% of Jewish households always attend and 13% usually attend a Passover Seder, 58% always and 12% usually light Chanukah candles, 9% always and 4% usually light Sabbath candles.

61% of married couples are intermarried, 6% are conversionary in-marriages, and 33% are in-marriages, in which both the husband and wife were born or raised as Jews.

In these intermarried households, 47% of children under age 18 are being raised Jewish, 26% are being raised part Jewish, and 27% are being raised non-Jewish.


Survey data: 421 interviews of Jewish households in Cumberland and York counties - Southern Maine. No interviews were conducted in the other Maine counties; all data on Southern Maine is from these 421 interviews.

Sample Size: 421 completed telephone interviews: 150 via RDD sampling (random digit dialing) and 271 via DJN (distinctive Jewish names) in published telephone directories.

Sample Notes:

Data from the RDD and DJN interviews were combined after Dr. Sheskin weighted the DJN sample so the DJN and RDD samples did not differ significantly on two key variables (age of the head of household and type of marriage).

File was also weighted to reflect number of telephone landlines in the household, and geographic oversampling of high Jewish incidence areas in the RDD frame. See Methodology chapter for details (Main Report, Volume I, chapter 2).

♦ Data File has 421 interviews and 55 variables

♦ WF is weight factor which reduces N to 409;  (variable 522)

♦ WFHH extrapolates data to 4,300 Jewish households. (variable 526)

Report indicates an 85% screening response rate among households which were reached, and a 95% cooperation rate among RDD interviews.

Study Notes:

The city of Portland, ME is included in the core area of Cumberland county.

Jewish households were defined as any household with an adult who self-identifies as Jewish.

Language: English