Isabel Balotin has been the Shalom Jacksonville director at the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville since 2006. The unofficial Jewish welcome wagon was a vision she had for many years as a Northeastern transplant in the Sunshine State. Originally from the Catskills region of New York, she herself knew what it was like to be a stranger in another land, and wanted to afford others an easy transition into their new home.
After serving 23-years in synagogue administration at the Jacksonville Jewish Center and Congregation Ahavath Chesed (The Temple), Balotin decided to combine her Jewish community experiences and knowledge, with her passion for welcoming newcomers to the area. She wanted to add a new twist to this venture though, by having all the programs held in public spaces and to be inclusive in accordance with her motto of 'everyone matters'. With this in mind, she approached the Federation with her idea and secured a generous donor, enabling the launch of Shalom Jax, which she rarely calls a job, because as she puts it, "It’s my calling and I love every minute of it."