In this episode, Stephanie talks about her work at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel - a non-profit funeral chapel in New York City -and shares the experiences that led her to this world and continue to drive her today.
I connected with Stephanie after reading an article she authored: It’s Time to Elevate End-of-Life Conversations to Build Jewish Community. I was already curious to learn about how a non-profit funeral chapel operates, and learning about the advocacy work made it even more exciting to connect. Stephanie was enthusiastic and patiently answered all my questions. Even though Stephanie’s day-to-day work focuses on the living rather than the deceased, end of life plays a central role in all that she does. After we talked, I found myself reflecting on the role of living in talking about and promoting end of life conversations - both as a responsibility and as a potential blessing for the ones we love.
When we reconnected to record the podcast, I was easily able to capture Stephanie’s enthusiasm and warmth, and I’m thrilled to share her work and story with you.
About Stephanie Garry:
Stephanie is the Executive Vice President of Communal Partnerships at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel. Originally from the Midwest, Stephanie has always been involved in the Jewish Community, even during the 25 years she was an actor, appearing in over 1500 commercials. Stephanie is a member of Congregation Rodeph Sholom where she is a member of the caring committee and a member of Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City. She is a board member of Jewish Womens Foundation of New York and The Hadassah Foundation. Stephanie is also an associate member of the National Association of Temple Administrators and is a long-standing member of the lay advisory board of The New York Board of Rabbis.
Hebrew and Jewish References Explained:
Chevrah Kadisha: Aramaic in origin is the term for Jewish burial societies, also translated as “holy friends” or “sacred society”
Kosher: According to the requirements of Jewish law
Shmirah/Shomer: From the Hebrew word “to watch” or “guard”. There is a custom of watch the body of a deceased person from the time of death until burial- this is one of the roles for members of the chevrah kadisha
Tahara: The ritual of washing, cleansing, and dressing a body for burial. This is a role of the chevra kadisha
Yahrtzeit: Yiddish for “anniversary of a death”. There is a ritual to mark the anniversary by lighting a memorial candle.