The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'We try to learn from each other'

In this family, dad is a bishop and daughter is soon to be a rabbi

A special guest read the Old Testament lesson at the installation of B. Penrose Hoover as bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod: a female rabbinical student from New York City who wore a traditional prayer shawl and yarmulke.

As she chanted the Scripture in Hebrew and then read it in English, Hoover beamed with joy. It was his daughter, Heidi Hoover.

“What went through my heart was intense pride and love for my daughter’s charismatic presence, her poise and, yes, her faith,” said Hoover, whose installation took place in Harrisburg, Pa., in October.

Heidi Hoover didn’t follow a typical
Heidi Hoover didn’t follow a typical PK’s path into ministry—she went to rabbinical school. In October she read at the installation of her dad, B. Penrose Hoover, as bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod.
While it’s not uncommon for a pastor’s kid to follow in mom’s or dad’s footsteps in the profession, Heidi’s ministry is taking a different path than most Lutheran PKs—in the Reform Jewish faith. It certainly wasn’t the path she expected to follow when she was preparing to marry her boyfriend from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. She recalls her thoughts: “I said, ‘I like Judaism, I’m going to marry a Jew (Mike Rose), we’ll raise Jewish kids, I’ll have a Jewish home, but I don’t think I could ever convert.’ ”

Lutheranism was just too much a part of her. “I loved being a pastor’s kid,” she said.

But living in Brooklyn and becoming involved in her husband’s family and synagogue, Heidi found herself gradually drawn into Judaism. The turning point came in 1997, when her mother’s cancer returned after many years.

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