June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ilana Mermelstein Bakes for Healthcare Workers

Ilana Mermelstein, 15-year-old Teaneck resident, took up baking during the pandemic with the end result being a chesed for local health care workers. After her usual activity, gymnastics, was canceled for months, Ilana needed a new activity to keep her occupied. Coupled with the need for her to step up and help with the family cooking, baking seemed like the perfect solution. After learning specific techniques on YouTube and the Food Network, business took off—and “bakedbyilana” was born.

Seeing the stress of the pandemic, Ilana felt a strong need to contribute to her community. She began by baking for friends and family. Even with the casual customers, her business started properly—with official dessert requests and dropoffs.

After a full summer of baking, Ilana wanted to do something more to help others during a stressful time. She decided to ask her neighbor, an emergency room doctor working the night shift, if she would bring some of her baked goods to her colleagues. She agreed, and became invested in the details—introducing Ilana and her business on a notecard and being sure to mark all ingredients in case anyone has food allergies like she does.

The first time Ilana baked for the hospital was at the end of October 2020. After that, she baked for the ER once a week for 18 weeks. Starting in April 2021, when food was no longer allowed in the doctors’ breakroom, Ilana’s mother asked her friend, a doctor at a different hospital, if Ilana could bake for her. She agreed, and Ilana has been baking for them once a week ever since.

Neighbors and community members started hearing about Ilana’s baked goods and couldn’t wait to try them out. Ilana received orders for birthday parties and bar mitzvahs—she even made breakfast boxes of assorted baked goods. For another gig, Ilana was hired to make 25 boxes with three different desserts in it for a two-day simcha, totaling 50 boxes with delicious treats inside.


Ilana’s business and menu continue to grow every day with her hard work and dedication. Follow her on instagram @bakedbyilana and direct-message her to order, or email her at [email protected].

Hannah Kirsch just returned from a gap year in Israel and will be attending Binghamton University in the fall.

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