Ms. Lea Malek (a Holocaust survivor and an immigrant) opened Malek’s Bakery in 1977. In 2022, the previous owner expressed a deep desire to retire, and it became quickly known in the Rochester community that if someone did not buy the bakery, it would close permanently.
Malek’s Bakery is the ONLY Kosher bakery in the Upstate, Chautaugua, Western, Upstate, Central, and Adirondack regions of New York. Jewish individuals often travel in from Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Watertown, and Ithaca to buy kosher baked goods from Malek’s. Rochester Synagogues, educational and community centers, and Continuing Care Facilities rely on Malek’s for challah and other Kosher baked goods. If the bakery closed, individuals who keep a Kosher lifestyle in Rochester would struggle to have access to baked goods and would ultimately have to either leave our community or ship goods in from places like New York City. With shipping costs and times at an all-time high, this option isn’t a viable option. There are currently an estimated 18,911 Jewish individuals who live in the Greater Rochester area alone, with many more residing in the Finger Lakes, Greater Niagara, Chautaugua/Allegheny, 1000 Island, Central NY, and Adirondack region.
In order to keep Malek’s a certified Kosher Bakery able to meet the needs of the larger community, Hillel Community Day School, a 501c3 organization that promotes critical thinking, and academic excellence while inspiring a meaningful connection to Jewish customs and values for all students, purchased the bakery in January of 2022.
This purchase will allow profits from the bakery to go back into its upkeep and sustainability, as well as offer eventual support to Hillel School's robust scholarship and financial aid program. Over 85% of Hillel's students and their families receive around a 72% discounted financial aid package, which means that the school needs to continue expanding our revenue streams to ensure our ability to meet the needs of our current and future students’ families.
The Malek’s Bakery premise has been in disrepair for a decade. With its designation as a historical landmark of Brighton, New York, there was a risk that the building would continue to fall into disrepair and might become another empty storefront on the town’s main avenue. Hillel School is facing upwards of $125,000 to complete urgently needed renovations to the Bakery’s premises. The school is reaching out to you to ask for help in generating community and state support to make the necessary upgrades needed to continue the operation of this regional treasure and its historically designated location. Supportive funds will go towards safer flooring and structural floor repairs, correction of ceilings that are collapsing, mechanical and electrical improvements needed to ensure code compliance and safety, plumbing support to correct leaks and pipe system issues, the sealing of lead paint that could pose a hazard in certain areas of the bakery, and the addition of a small dairy kitchen in the basement of the bakery to separate dairy from pareve baking, allowing a broader kosher designated status from a state and nationally recognized kashrut oversight organization. This separate bakery will allow us to expand our reach to the community, including those with dairy allergies or who need a vegan option for baked goods as well.
Malek’s Bakery has a vibrant history. The Jewish and non-Jewish customers who come through the doors each day are not coming just for a loaf of challah, or a piece of seven-layer cake, they are coming because Malek’s connects them to their ancestors, to their culture, their community and gives them a sense of home that bring joy and warmth. Over the past few months, our region has seen the shuttering of many local bakeries, including Silvana’s Gluten-Free Bakery, Dolce Bakery, Gruttadauria’s Bakery, and Martusciello Bakery. Malek’s would love to remain a viable community and regional staple, and we thank you in advance for your consideration in helping to ensure Malek's remains a Kosher Bakery in Rochester for at least the next 100 years.