What Matters


In his best-selling book Being Mortal, Atul Gawande urges us “to refashion our institutions, our culture, and our conversations in ways that transform the possibilities for the last chapters of everyone’s lives.”

In response, a new advance care planning initiative has been launched in the Jewish community of New York to enable individuals to think about, plan for, and take steps to ensure that when the time comes, their end of life wishes will be respected and honored. What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life is a collaboration between JCC Manhattan, The New Jewish Home, and the Center for Pastoral Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, made possible through generous grants from Plaza Jewish Community Chapel and UJA Federation of New York.

This initiative builds upon Respecting Choices, a program with proven success nationwide. In La Crosse, WI, where Respecting Choices began, 96 percent of the residents have an advance care plan; the national average is 25 percent.

This effort aims to heighten awareness about the importance of completing advance care directives and enable individuals to thoughtfully consider and document their end of life preferences—with opportunities to engage Jewish values as part of the process. Trained and certified facilitators walk individuals through the process and encourage them to discuss their wishes with family members, loved ones, and physicians.

Such conversations are already taking place at nine program sites—six synagogues, one community center, one communal organization, and a nursing home.

What Matters will create opportunities for people to connect, grow, and learn. In the words of JCC Manhattan Executive Director Rabbi Joy Levitt, “Thinking about the end of our lives provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to speak with those whom we love about that which matters most—our hopes, our values, what makes us happy, what makes us feel safe.”



We will engage New Yorkers in compassionate, value-driven conversations about advance care planning, so they may live with the comfort of knowing their choices will be honored by loved ones and healthcare professionals.



Guided by Jewish values, we envision a community that embraces advance care planning as a natural part of life, where end of life decisions are known, respected and honored.

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Photo by Angelica Ciccone


Made possible by our founder, funder, and partner, Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, Inc., and support from UJA-Federation of New York.



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