Kosher Crusader: Aaron Tobin’s Mission— Share News Of Local Deals And Food Items

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Aaron Tobin finds Brian’s kosher calzones at a 7-11.

Sharing and posting news on Facebook about kosher items and deals in Metro Detroit brings a smile to Aaron Tobin, aka the “Kosher Crusader.”

“I have the talent of walking into a store and finding kosher food items, especially at unusual places, like dollar stores,” said Tobin, 55, of Oak Park. He’s often informed store managers about food items on their shelves carrying a hechsher symbol, which signifies rabbinical certification of items adhering to a required kashrut standard. His kosher discoveries have included crumpets at Trader Joe’s and premium chocolates at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Tobin’s authority for acceptable hechshers is a list compiled by the Chicago Rabbinical Council (www.crcweb.org/
listsandlinks.php). “A plain K is not enough unless I know who’s behind it,” he said.

Tobin grew up in a kosher-observant Conservative home within walking distance of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield.

kosher-crusader-1His mother, Diana “Blondie” Tobin, born in Lithuania, sold produce at the Ferry-Chene Market while raising five children with her Detroit-born husband, Morton. He and his now-deceased brother, Harold, co-owned United Auto Parts in Roseville.

“My parents laid the foundation for my Jewish observance by example,” Tobin said.

A graduate of Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills and Southfield-Lathrup High School, he majored in communications at Michigan State University.

Tobin was among 30 students invited to a leadership training seminar, co-sponsored by the Israeli government, at the Jerusalem-based Orthodox yeshivah, Ohr Somayach.

“I became 100 percent observant,” said Tobin, who founded MSU’s Jewish Student Union. He and his friend, the late Daniel Barg, organized the university’s first Shabbaton weekend with kosher food at Hillel House.

Tobin studied five years at Ohr Somayach following his 1984 MSU graduation and another five working in computers and networks in Monsey, N.Y. Returning home, he turned his family’s failing business into Global Remanufacturing, a leader in remanufactured automotive electrical products. Tobin retired from that business about two years ago.

An Oak Park resident since the late 1990s, Tobin typically davens at Congregation Shomer Israel, also known as the Avtzen Shul, on Vernon Street.

The Kosher Crusader has additional interests. At age 9, after taking a riflery class at a Jewish camp in Petoskey, he received a marksman medal and certificate from the National Rifle Association. Tobin teaches gun-safety classes, showing newbies “how to handle guns before touching them.”

Since 2015, Tobin has led the Oak Park EZ Roll, a free group bike ride. As many as 200 bicyclists depart at 7 p.m. Tuesdays from the Oak Park Public Library’s parking lot. Tobin posts each route in advance on Facebook and also video following the rides.

“Retired” from local politics after two unsuccessful runs for office, Tobin co-leads Save the Oak Park JCC — another cause dear to the eligible bachelor’s heart.

Still, his Kosher Crusader gig might be the most satisfying: “I like to show people that keeping kosher is not difficult.”

Go to Facebook to find Tobin’s Kosher Crusader and Oak Park EZ Roll Rides pages.

By Esther Allweiss Ingber | Contributing Writer

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