Materials + Resources

What Matters Materials & Resources


Introduction to What Matters and Advance Caring Planning
Welcome to What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life. This project is designed to help you clarify your goals and wishes regarding your future healthcare choices through individually facilitated conversations.

Healthcare Agent Information Card
This is a template for a card to give the person you name your healthcare agent. It includes information about what it means to be a healthcare agent and decisions they might have to make.

New York State Health Care Proxy Form
The New York Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint someone you trust to make healthcare decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself. This form is legally recognized in New York State and is recommended by What Matters facilitators for documenting your wishes and instructions.

Health Care Proxy Wallet Card
This wallet-sized card contains the same information as the longer Health Care Proxy Form, and it may be completed, witnessed and carried with you at all times.

What Matters Living Will: My Goals, Values and Preferences - Notes for My Health Care Agent, Health Care Providers and Other Important People.
This form is intended to help you express and communicate your health care wishes to the important people in your life who may have to make health care decisions for you, should you become incapacitated and unable to make them for yourself. 

What If I Think I Have No One To Appoint As My Health Care Agent?
This What Matters informational packet offers ideas and resources for people who find they are not ready or are unable to appoint a health care agent, because they feel that they have no one to designate or because choosing the right person is difficult for myriad reasons. 

What Matters Living Will Wallet Card
If you are not able to designate an agent, keep the Living Will Wallet Card in your wallet, with the location of your completed living will form.

Understanding Advanced Care Planning As a Jewish Process
Jewish sources teach that life is sacred and that engaging in conversation leads to deeper understanding. Advance care planning and ethical wills can help clarify values that are essential to shaping end of life decision-making. Judaism has diverse perspectives on advance care planning and health care decision-making, and What Matters has developed several resources to guide individuals in their exploration. 


Advance Directives: Making Your Wishes Known and Honored 
This guide from the New York State Office of the Attorney General includes information about advance directive forms with tips on how to use them.

Never The Right Time 
Dr. Lois Perelson-Gross
A comic anthology using cartoons to facilitate advance care planning 
(also available in hard copy on request) 

Images of Mortality: Being Mortal
Rabbi Juliana Karol, Assistant Rabbi, Congregation Rodeph Sholom Study resource sheet from adult education class, Winter 2019

What Matters Passover Haggadah Companion.
In this companion piece to the Passover haggadah, we include three beautiful writings, followed by thoughtful questions for personal and communal reflection, from three rabbis who weave together several themes of Pesach, What Matters, and Jewish texts and traditions. Each of them may be viewed through the lens of the current circumstances in which we find ourselves, yearning for meaning in these uncertain times.


Shomer Collective
Shomer Collective's mission is to improve end of life experiences for individuals and their families— inspired by Jewish wisdom, values, and practices. It offers curated content and resources from a diverse network of organizational partners.

C-TAC Coalition to Transform Advanced Care
C-TAC, a membership organization, serves companies and organizations concerned about the services and treatment received by those in our society who suffer with advanced illness. The goal of C-TAC's efforts is to ensure that the sickest and most vulnerable in our midst receive comprehensive, high-quality, person- and family-centered care consistent with their goals and values and honors their dignity.

CaringInfo, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, provides free resources to help people make decisions about end of life care and services before a crisis occurs. Information and support are available to anyone planning ahead, caregiving, living with serious illness, or grieving a loss. Links for state-specific advance directive forms are included.

The Conversation Project
The Conversation Project is a public engagement initiative with the goal of ensuring that individuals’ wishes for end-of-life care are expressed and respected. The Conversation Project offers tools, guidance, and resources to begin talking with loved ones about their wishes and preferences before a medical crisis occurs.

Death Over Dinner—Jewish Edition
Death Over Dinner brings loved ones, friends, and strangers together to share a meal and engage in facilitated conversations about death. The goal is to make talking about death a more accepted and valued part of mainstream culture. Rabbis, theologians, and medical leaders have created an interactive experience that transforms this potentially difficult conversation into one in which everyone can take part.

National Healthcare Decisions Day
National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) inspires and educates the public and healthcare providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and to urge providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.  An annual 50-state initiative of The Conversation Project, NHDD provides clear, concise, and consistent information on healthcare decision-making to the public, providers, and facilities by disseminating simple, free, and uniform tools to guide the process.

Plaza Jewish Community Chapel—Funeral Pre-Planning
This site discusses the advantages of funeral pre-planning and guides you through the process. Plaza provides a kit that includes valuable planning information and forms.

Reimagine End of Life
Reimagine End of Life is a community-wide exploration of death and celebration of life through creativity and conversation. Drawing on the arts, spirituality, healthcare, and design, Reimagine is a weeklong series of events that break down taboos and bring diverse communities together in wonder, preparation, and remembrance.

Respecting Choices
Respecting Choices® is an internationally recognized, evidence-based model of advance care planning that creates a healthcare culture of person-centered care, honoring an individual's values and their goals for their current and future healthcare. What Matters facilitators and instructors are trained in accordance with Respecting Choices certification standards.

Jewish Ethical Wills Project
Resources for communities to engage in creating ethical wills, including a two-part curriculum, Ethical Wills: A Values Vault for Future Generations©.


A Good End
Go to, or download on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify.
This seven-part series, produced by 70 Faces Media, presents “a new conversation about Judaism, death, and dying in the 21st century.”  Episodes include “Conversations About Death and Dying,” “Planning for a Good Death,” “Jewish Tradition and End of Life Care,” “Hospice and Hymns,” “Judaism and the Right to Die,” “Death and Dying: Our Stories and Lessons Learned Along the Way,” and “A Good Burial.”

Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life
In this engaging conversation, Jessica Nutik Zitter. M.D., and Jewish Theological Seminary Chancellor Arnold Eisen discuss the importance of transforming the way people approach the end of life and what Judaism can teach us about dying well. Dr. Zitter is uniquely trained to practice both critical and palliative care medicine. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times and the Huffington Post.

Helen Radin Memorial Lecture: What Matters
Rabbi Felicia Sol and B’nai Jeshurun Senior Rabbinic Fellow Sarit Horwitz are joined by Dr. Eliezer Diamond of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Joy Levitt of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, and moderator Rabbi Mychal Springer, director of the Center for Pastoral Education at JTS, to discuss end of life planning and the What Matters initiative.

Jewish Sacred Aging Podcast with Mychal Springer and Sally Kaplan
Rabbi Mychal B. Springer, director of the Center for Pastoral Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Sally Kaplan, program director of What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life, speak with Sacred Aging’s Rabbi Richard Address about this initiative to bring advance care planning to the Jewish community of New York.

When Breath Becomes Air: Dr. Lucy Kalanithi in conversation with Rabbi Neil Zuckerman
In this conversation, sponsored by What Matters, Park Avenue Synagogue, and Central Synagogue, Dr. Lucy Kalanithi talks with Rabbi Neil Zuckerman of Park Avenue Synagogue about her late husband Dr. Paul Kalanithi, and his New York Times best-selling book When Breath Becomes Air.  She shares his story and discusses the journey her own life has taken since the book’s publication. (Audio file)

When Breath Becomes Air: Dr. Lucy Kalanithi in conversation with Rabbi Mychal Springer
This conversation took place at the Marlene Meyerson JCC on April 5, 2017. This talk is featured on the JCC's signature podcast, 76West. Rabbi Mychal Springer is Director of the Center for Pastoral Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Living with the Fragility of Life
Rabbi Mychal Springer, Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, NYC; former director of the Center for Pastoral Education at JTS, Yom Kippur, September 2017


My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me
Ten days before she died, acclaimed author Amy Krouse Rosenthal had a piece published in The New York Times' Modern Love section that was a heartbreaking play on a personal ad encouraging her husband, Jason, to find happiness after she died. The column instantly went viral, reaching over five million people worldwide. Jason discusses love, loss, and resilience, and his memoir, My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me, in conversation with Jeannie Blaustein, founding board chair, Reimagine.

Caring Conversations: Facing Our Mortality by Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein
In this program hosted by Central Synagogue, Rabbi Peter Rubinstein explains how What Matters can provide the opportunity for a conversation about end of life that can be both uplifting and incredibly helpful and powerful.

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, senior rabbi at Central Synagogue, speaks about What Matters and advance care planning in the context of a sermon on Parshat Vayigash in January 2017.

End of Life Planning: Customs and Practices of Three Faith Traditions
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, senior rabbi at Central Synagogue; Senior Reverend Scott Black Johnston, of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church; and Chaplain Tahara Akmal, director of clinical pastoral education and certified educator at the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences in Reading, PA, explore the customs, norms, and precepts of their faith traditions regarding the end of life and planning for death. Hosted by Central Synagogue during the Reimagine End of Life festival.

Reimagining End of Life Care: A Multifaith Exploration
Modern medicine presents us with complex choices at the end of life. How do we navigate our options? How do we ensure the best care for the whole person—at the end of life—in a highly mechanized health system? What guidance and wisdom can diverse religious traditions and communities provide? Keynote Speaker: Jessica Nutik Zitter, M.D., ICU and palliative care specialist, Highland Hospital, Oakland, CA,  and author of Extreme Measures: Finding A Better Path to the End of Life. Panelists: Rev. Lisa D. Jenkins, senior pastor, St. Matthew's Baptist Church of Harlem; Khalid L. Rehman, M.D., attending physician, Department of Medicine, Metropolitan Hospital, NY; Rabbi Mychal Springer, director, Center for Pastoral Education, Jewish Theological Seminary. Moderator: Rev. Pamela Cooper-White, Ph.D., Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary. Hosted by the Jewish Theological Seminary during the Reimagine End of Life festival.

Sage Voices
A diverse group of rabbis and religious leaders speak about end of life issues and how they integrate Jewish tradition into their own teaching and caring for others. Topics include palliative care and hospice, organ donation, withdrawal of food and nutrition, life support, do not resuscitate (DNR), and ethical wills.

What Matters: Caring Conversations About the End of Life: An Introductory Video
This video provides an overview of  What Matters, an initiative of the Jewish community of New York that engages individuals in compassionate, value-driven conversations about advance care planning, so that they may live with the comfort of knowing their healthcare choices will be respected and honored.

Just in Case—Difficult Conversations
A sermon by Rabbi David Ingber, Founder and Senior Rabbi, Romemu, December 2018

In the Valley of the Shadow of Death
Rabbi Sharon Brous, Senior Rabbi, IKAR, Kol Nidre, October 2016


Pew Charitable Trust—How Faith Communities Facilitate Conversations Around End-of-Life Concerns (September 21, 2017)
This report finds that faith communities are a natural, appropriate venue for congregants to engage in advance care planning.What Matters is highlighted as an initiative of the Jewish community in which "people of faith are already engaged in conversations about serious illness care.”
Read a brief overview of the study
Read the full 32-page report


Averting the Severity of the Decree: The Questions You'll Be Asked When You Get to Heaven
Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, Rabbi Emeritus, Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ)

Read the sermon here.

A Jewish Values-Based Conversation About Advance Care Directives
Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Senior Rabbi, SAJ Synagogue

Read the sermon here.

Necessary Conversations
Rabbi Shaul Robinson, Senior Rabbi, Lincoln Square Synagogue

Read the sermon here.