After inciting shock, despair, anger, and sadness in many, this year’s election has revealed a great divide in our county. With all this in mind, a restless, anxiety ridden day at work left us in much need of each other’s company and a comforting meal. Naomi and I headed over to the famous Veselka for a bowl of their sweet and sour borscht, perogies, and meatballs. You might know Veselka as simply the delicious East Village Ukrainian pierogi and borscht restaurant, but believe it or not, it’s more than that. Today, we would like to dedicate this post to the immigrants and minorities who have been helping to create and support local communities right here in New York City and across America.
Current Veselka owner Tom Birchard married Marta who was the daughter of Wolodymyr Darmochwal, an agronomist who was expelled from Ukraine after World War II during the Soviet rule and housed in a displaced-persons camp in Germany for two years. After settling in New Jersey, Darmochwal opened Veselka in 1954 as a newsstand, canteen, and community center. Now the sole owner of the restaurant, Birchard has throughout the years welcomed the diverse community of the East Village, from sponsoring performance artists to offering jobs to Polish immigrants, opening up its doors to both hippies and punks for hot coffee and free challah. Veselka was and is today a safe haven, providing good food as well as comfort and a sense of community.
It’s in times like these that we must come together as a community for strength and remind ourselves who we are, where it is we come from, what we will and will not stand for. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
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