Iranian Jewish men read from the Torah during morning prayers at Youssef Abad synagogue on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Tehran.

Report: Jewish American Identity Has Shifted

More Jews identify as Jewish based on ancestry and culture and are marrying outside the faith.

Iranian Jewish men read from the Torah during morning prayers at Youssef Abad synagogue on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Tehran.
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Jewish Americans are becoming more secular, as the number of people who identify as Jews on the basis of culture, marry outside the faith and choose to not raise their children Jewish creeps up from years past, according to a Pew Research Center poll published Tuesday.

The number of Jews who define their identity through religious practice has shifted dramatically in the last century between the Greatest Generation and Millennials born after 1980. Ninety three percent of Jews born between 1914 and the late 1920s identify as Jewish on a religious basis, a figure that has declined with each new generation.

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Only 68 percent of Millennial Jews identify themselves as Jewish based on religion, while 32 percent found their identification on ancestry and culture.

Jews are also marrying inside the faith less frequently. Before 1970, only 17 percent of Jews married spouses of another religious domination. In the last eight years, 58 percent of Jews married outside the faith.

Nearly all fully Jewish couples are raising their children Jewish. However, only 1 in 5 children with one Jewish parent grow up under the faith.

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"It's a very grim portrait of the health of the American Jewish population in terms of their Jewish identification," Jack Wertheimer, an American Jewish history professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, told The New York Times.

Of the Jews polled, 62 percent say ancestry and culture is the defining metric for identifying as Jewish, while only 15 percent say religious practice is what makes one Jewish. Pew found Jews that shift interfaith denominations tend to move toward less traditional sects. One-in-four people raised Orthodox went on to become Conservative or Reform Jews, while nearly a third of Conservative Jews became Reform Jews. Reform Jews left the faith entirely at a similar rate.

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