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Sylvan M. Tobin, 83, Communal Leader

June 5, 2013 By:
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Sylvan M. Tobin

Sylvan M. Tobin, an apparel manufacturer who played major roles in the Phil­a­delphia Jewish community for the past 35 years, died May 29.

The Haverford resident was 83.

For years, Tobin partnered with Bernard Fishman in a local boys’ apparel company co-founded by Tobin’s late father, Louis. In later years, Sylvan Tobin was a consultant to the Conshohocken-based company that was named for the partners.

Both Fishman and Tobin — long acknowledged for their work on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia — were honored in 1999 with the Federation’s Community Award for service rendered. Tobin also had served as vice president of Federation.

Tobin’s communal bio is long, beginning in the 1970s. He served what was then the Federation Allied Jewish Appeal in numerous capacities and divisions, including co-chairing the Trade Council in the 1970s.

He also served as a member of the Federation Board of Trustees; and as a member and vice president of its men’s cabinet and executive committee. He also chaired the Federation Insurance and MIS committees and was chairman of the Jewish Continuity Commission.

In 1975, both he and his father were saluted by State of Israel Bonds at Har Zion Temple, where the younger Tobin served as a member of the synagogue’s board.

Tobin’s activities also included service to the Cancer Institute of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, where he served on the board in the ’70s.

He also was a limited partner in the Phil­a­delphia Flyers, for which his wife, the former Frances Eman­uel, ran Flyers Charities.

When he was honored with Federation’s Community Award, Tobin spoke of the approaching new millennium and its challenges as well as his hopes, which included “those things that will enable my grandchildren’s children and beyond to grow up proud of their heritage. I fervently want them to live in a community that is not affected by race or religion, but still understanding that they are and will be Jews, and their responsibility is to take care of other Jews.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Lynne Tobin and Sharon Tobin Kestenbaum; a son, Steven; two sisters, Bernice Rosenfeld and Estelle Brodsky; and 11 grandchildren. 

Donations in his memory may be made to the Tobin Kestenbaum Family Professorship in Neuroscience at the Wistar Institute, 3601 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA. 19104, or to the charity of the donor’s choice. 

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