Where’s Home for You? Celebrate Belonging during Jewish Book Month


On October 9, 2023, the airplane lifted off the Tel Aviv tarmac. As the flickering lights along Israel’s coastline grew smaller in the distance, my eyes swelled with tears. I had waited since summer to visit my family in Israel. Two days into my holiday, war had broken out and I am utterly heartbroken at the horrors that have transpired. Israel has been my home since the age of thirteen.

My plane touched down in London, my birth town. From there I flew to California, which has been my home for the past ten years. “Welcome home,” said the customs officers in each of these countries as they waved me through to baggage claim. ‘Where is home? What is home?’  I wondered as I lugged my baggage off the carousel and passed through the green light with nothing to declare.

Home is community. Home is a place that fosters a sense of belonging, understanding and appreciation among its members. The OFJCC is a place that I’m proud to call my home. For me, the OFJCC has been a cornerstone of cultural enrichment, education and empowerment.

Judaism has always had a special relationship with books. November is Jewish Book Month and this season’s OFJCC Cultural Arts author series offers a wide range of perspectives, styles and themes.

Authors have the ability to convey complex emotions, share profound insights and inspire readers to face life’s challenges with renewed vigor and determination.

By celebrating diverse artistic expression, we are able create a sense of unity within the community, encourage dialogue, cultivate learning and stimulate growth. By embracing these community values, we are a space where creativity and compassion thrive, relationships flourish, inspiration flows, hope is found and a sense of belonging is fostered. I hope that, for you too, the OFJCC is a place where you feel like you’ve come home.

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Michelle Shabtai

Written by Michelle Shabtai

Michelle Shabtai is the Cultural Arts Manager at the Oshman Family JCC. With a diverse background spanning England, Israel and California, and an appreciation for the power of the arts to foster community and belonging, she curates evening programs that showcase local and international performers, musicians, speakers and artists. In her free time, she enjoys dog cuddles, visiting her grown boys in Seattle, devouring fine food, honing coffee snobbery, meditating under trees, and traveling anywhere on planet Earth.

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