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PEORIA — Rabbi Pickle was anything but serious about pickles. "Let's get in the pickle spirit," he exclaimed, hands raised to a cheering audience of about 50 people as he told them to ready for picklepalooza Monday at Lakeview Museum. Mendy Margolin, who is known as Rabbi Pickle, kept the crowd charmed during the hourlong pickle-making seminar, walking them through the recipe, telling jokes and sneaking in lessons about living a kosher lifestyle. For that is what Margolin was serious about. 

"Kosher is not only just an old-fashioned diet that's just kept by old people," Margolin said. "It's something that's alive today. Something that is fun, something that is good and something that is really nourishing for the soul. Like people say, you are what you eat."

Margolin was brought to Peoria by the Lubavitch Chabad of Peoria, which hosted the seminar as part of its adult
education programming at Lakeview.

Each participant was able to concoct a special recipe and was sent home with a bright green container of kosher pickles, which will be ready to eat within the week.

Peoria was just one of the many stops on the five-state Midwest tour for Margolin, who started touring with the "Pickle Factory" a few months ago.

During his speech about how he got involved in the pickle business, Margolin told the audience he learned the trade from an old man he used to visit as part of his Chabad. The old man, he said, gave him a subtle lesson about the benefits that can come from caring for those in your community.

His high-energy personality kept the crowd laughing as he walked from table to table helping the group prepare their pickles.

As he joked about garlic or whether a pickle will turn a person green, Margolin slipped in the importance of eating kosher.

"Most importantly, is that (eating kosher) spiritually changes you," he told the audience. "It has a profound effect on your soul when you eat kosher food."

Those lessons on religion were almost as interesting as the pickling lesson to Jumuna Nathan of Peoria, who attended the seminar with her daughter-in-law, Shanta Nathan.

"It made us aware of a need to be good to your fellow man," Jumuna said.

Rabbi Eli Langsam said he was pleased with the turnout, adding they changed the venue because of the outpouring of interest.

"We hope people walked away with some sense of what kosher is about," Langsam said.

One satisfied pickler, Leonard Kaufman of Peoria, said he heard about the seminar because he's "a member of the Jewish community. We hear about everything."

He said the Chabad gives Judaism a good reputation in Peoria, as did Margolin.

"He had a grasp of the audience," Kaufman said. "He's quite a guy."

Laughing and learning

Pickle-making program also teaches about kosher lifestyle