NEW YORK (AP) _ A four-year study seeking to better understand Jewish identity found that many Jews feel a stronger personal attachment to their faith even as their observance of traditional, communal rituals declines.

The report for the UJA-Federation of New York surveyed 1,504 Jews in the area and found that 70 percent reported low or declining religious observance from childhood through adulthood.

However, 63 percent reported high or increasing levels of Jewish ``consciousness and attachment.'' Such other types of involvement include attending Jewish summer camp and traveling to Israel.

``We see evidence of a more pliable, `personalized' Jewish identity, which for many has more to do with personal meaning and expression than communal experience,'' said the study's author, Brandeis University social psychologist Bethamie Horowitz.

Jewish identity can be ``powerfully influenced'' by relationships with grandparents, rabbis and teachers, Horowitz wrote. But only 5 percent of the study's respondents said their rabbis were a positive influence; 10 percent said they were ``turnoffs.''

While 30 percent reported positive experiences with Jewish institutions such as Hebrew schools, 28 percent called them turnoffs.

When asked what was central to their ``Jewishness,'' 73 percent of the respondents said that remembering the Holocaust was very important. The same percentage responded: ``leading an ethical and moral life.''