A Union League Union, by Paul Bass

They met at the movie theater—his movie theater. Years later they starred in their own production (their Big Fat Vietnamese-Jewish Wedding?) with an eclectic, adoring supporting cast and a happy ending.

The happy ending took place Sunday afternoon and evening at the downtown Union League Cafe, where over 100 well-wishers witnessed the marriage of Westville’s Thuy Pham and Arnold Gorlick.

Gorlick met Pham the way he met many of the guests present and so many other New Haveners over the years: in the role of an art house cinema’s gregarious host and enthusiastic discussant on all matters of the silver screen and of the heart. For years he played that role at the late York Square Cinemas. Now he plays the role at his own theater, Madison Art Cinemas.

Pham, visiting the East Coast from her Portland home, was there to see The Station Agent on the night of a lunar eclipse. Like everyone else present, she encountered Gorlick. She asked him to summon her when the eclipse took place. He complied, and they sat under the marquee and watched the show.

She returned to the theater in June 2008. He hadn’t forgotten her.

A friendship was born, then a romance—one that on Sunday the couple consecrated with vows of lifelong devotion.

“Union League cleared out the tables from the first-floor dining room to make way for 110 or so chairs facing the front window, where Father Thomas Shepard of St. Aedan & St. Brendan Churches…” -Image courtesy of the New Haven Independent, Paul Bass photo, 2012
“…and Yale Rabbi James Ponet co-officiated.” -Image courtesy of the New Haven Independent, Paul Bass photo, 2012

‘First you met at a movie theater, and realizing this is more than a cinematic experience, you moved off the stage and off the screen to this event, which is worthy of cinema,’ Ponet told Gorlick and Pham, who is the social worker at New Haven’s Mauro-Sheridan School.

Before Gorlick, who is 65 and had never previously married, punctuated Sunday’s ceremony with the traditional stomp on a drinking glass (in video), Ponet recited the sheva berachot, or seven wedding blessings, along with commentary. He tied one of the blessings to the wonder shared by many in attendance: that joyous beginnings can transpire at any of life’s junctures. ‘You’ve taught us that even when we feel barren, there is hope,’ Ponet declared. ‘That when we feel depressed and sad, there is the possibility of creating something new.'”

“Then commenced the schmoozing, noshing, picture-posing, and, on the second floor, dancing and a dinner that will never be forgotten…” -Image courtesy of the New Haven Independent, Paul Bass photo, 2012
“…including the Union League’s sorbet, which is to die for.” -Image courtesy of the New Haven Independent, Paul Bass photo, 2012

-Excerpt courtesy of the New Haven Independent, “A Union League Union,” by Paul Bass, August 20, 2012. (top) Image courtesy of the New Haven Independent, Paul Bass photo, 2012

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