Junior converts to Judaism

Maddie Lind navigates year-long conversion


Carissa Prestholdt

Junior presidents Maddie Lind and Ally Feller organize a meeting Sept. 24. Lind and Feller will co-lead this year’s chapter of Intersectional Feminism Club.

Breanna Thompson

Why did you convert?

I am still in the conversion process. I wasn’t really religious before I kind of developed an interest in Judaism. I was raised Methodist, but Christianity was never really my thing, and then I kind of realized, ‘Hey I don’t have to believe in God in a way that’s like an old white dude in the sky that controls everything.’ I already had an interest in Judaism before I decided or started considering converting and as soon as I realized that I could actually do this I started to look into it more.”

Are your parents religious?

Yeah, my parents are Christian. My entire family is Christian, but some people are more passionate in their beliefs than others.

How has your family’s religion impacted you?

My mom is super accepting. I haven’t told a whole lot of my extended family because I am an only child, so most of my family lives outside the cities, but I have told some family members, and the people I have told are super supportive and say, ‘Wow that’s super cool. That’s not a thing I knew could happen, but that’s cool for you.’

Where are you in the conversion process?

Overall I am converting to reform Judaism, so it is at least a year-long process of just learning, going to classes, attending synagogue, celebrating holidays, observing Shabbat (and) keeping kosher to the extent you want to. It is really trying to live as much as a Jew, but without officially being, leading up to the official ceremony. I met with my rabbi first about it three and a half months ago. I am still very much in the beginning baby stages, and there’s a lot to learn, but I am super excited about it.

Who has helped you transition?

I mean a lot of it has just been me figuring things out for myself, but I have met a lot of great people at my synagogue and just getting involved and meeting friendly people and having people I know to talk to has been really helpful in reaffirming my decision. My rabbi has been pretty great answering any questions I have for her, and my parents are supportive.

How many times have you gone to synagogue?

I go every Friday night, and then I am taking adult education classes there on weeknights. So I am there two times a week.

Have you transitioned your diet?

I am vegan, so I am already almost strict kosher by default, but the only vegan food that is potentially not kosher is grape products, so I am intentional in only using kosher grape juice or certified kosher cooking wine and stuff like that, but I am pretty much strict kosher.

What is it like being young and converting?

I know it is an unusual thing for a 17-year-old to convert to another religion, so I get that this is a learning experience for everyone, and it has been very much a learning curve for me because it is very unusual for a teenager to convert to a religion, let alone Judaism. A really high percentage of converts to Judaism have a Jewish partner or spouse and are converting partially because of that, so there’s not a whole lot of resources out there, so it has been a lot of figuring things out for myself.