Developer Michael Bolla Rescues Judaica Shop

In the last couple of years, we’ve been following the plight of Israel Wholesale Imports, at 23 Essex Street.  Heidi Yousef has run the Judaica store for the past 15 years, but last month she finally made the decision to call it quits.  Not so fast.  Michael Bolla, the real estate developer behind the Madison Jackson building, is coming to the rescue.

In the Jewish Daily Forward, Bolla, an observant Jew, explains why he felt compelled to step in: “I was literally walking by the store and I saw this woman standing [outside] with these old candlesticks… and I said, ‘Darling, what are you doing?’ She said, ‘I have no customers.’ And I said, ‘You are not going to get them like this, darling.”

Another Judaica Store on Essex Closing after 60 Years

Israel Wholesale & Retail Judaica has been on Essex Street for six decades, most recently at No. 23.

The Lower East Side is losing another mainstay of its Jewish heritage.

“The people, they don’t come down here anymore,” Heidi Yousef says emphatically when asked why Israel Wholesale & Retail Judaica plans to close in the next few weeks. “We don’t have that many stores here; it’s not that interesting.”