Celebrating Jewish Heritage Month: Meet Sam Pender

May 14, 2023

We are Women’s offers the WCH community a chance to get to know each other and share our stories. For Jewish Heritage Month, we are featuring some of our Jewish-identifying staff to discuss what Judaism means to them and how their Jewish identity informs their work.

Name: Sam Pender

Pronouns: She/her

Title & Department: Communications Coordinator, Strategic Communications

On the WCH team for: 1.5 years

1. What does being Jewish mean to you on a personal level?

Judaism and being Jewish guides and informs much of what I do with my life these days. Having come to my Jewish roots later in life, I didn’t have the same foundation many others in the Jewish community had for their faith, but I’ve been developing that foundation in recent years and the values and focus on community have had profound impact on my personal life. It enriches my life in so many ways and I find that Judaism often pulls me towards it when I’m struggling or at a crossroads in life.

2. How does your Jewish heritage inform your work in the healthcare industry, and what is the experience of being Jewish in the healthcare industry like?

Working in healthcare with Jewish values in mind only furthers the work I do to elevate marginalized voices and to expand the circle of inclusion to all cultures, heritages and ethnicities. It can also open your mind to being more aware of the different accommodations someone might need when receiving healthcare, depending on the customs, values and beliefs that come from their community or background.

3. What are your favourite things about Jewish culture?

I really love the focus on community and the openness that I’ve experienced in Jewish culture. I’ve interpreted so many Jewish customs, traditions and observances as a way to connect you to your community and loved ones, to Hashem and to Jewish values of doing good and caring for others. I love feeling like I’m part of a community whenever I go to Jewish spaces, and I’ve found a really meaningful intersection with my Jewish and queer identity. I also really love the practice of keeping Shabbat, which to me is a time to disconnect from the rest of the world and reconnect with your friends, family and community. Lighting Shabbat candles and reciting the blessings every week brings me a lot of peace and calm.

4. Tell us one to three things that your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you!

  • I was raised Catholic and my family celebrates Christmas with some Jewish customs like making latkes on Christmas eve
  •  I can do the 6 degrees of Friends with almost any famous person