Conversion: Prayer, History, and Memory. Jewish liturgy is particularly rich with historical references. In addition to the sorts of universal human needs and requests that pervade Jewish prayer, there are frequent appeals to events that occurred in the past and to the merits of ancestors. This element of prayer raises central questions about the interplay of ethnicity and religion in defining Jewishness. Can someone without any Jewish ancestry speak about the Jewish past in the same way as a native-born Jew? If so, how does allowing or requiring that affect our very understanding of the past itself and its role in shaping the present?