Vegan love: Interfaith wedding features Buddhism, Judaism … and zero animal products

Antonia Glenn and Scott Horstein met in 1999 while pursuing postgraduate degrees in drama at the University of San Diego. They shared an office, enrolled in the same classes and even taught together.

But romance didn’t emerge until two years after they first met.

Scott had finished his doctorate and was living in Los Angeles when they began dating. While Antonia finished her doctoral thesis in San Diego, the pair visited each other by any means possible. They moved in together in West Hollywood in 2004.

“We got engaged in 2006 on Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades at sundown, with pelicans flying by,” Scott said.

Scott grew up in Los Angeles; Antonia in Cambridge, Mass. The wedding was held in the East Bay, where Antonia’s parents and grandparents currently live.

The pair married in September at the community center in Crockett, on the Carquinez Strait about 20 miles north of Berkeley. The whole wedding weekend was intercultural, blending elements of Antonia’s Japanese American and Scottish families and Scott’s Jewish family.

Jewish Renewal Rabbi Pamela Frydman Baugh and Buddhist minister Zuikei Taniguchi presided over the interfaith ceremony, which incorporated Jewish and Buddhist rituals. They stood under a chuppah and broke a wine glass; they chanted and placed their hands together in gratitude (a Buddhist ritual known as gasho) and offered incense before a Buddhist shrine (known as oshoko).

While most of the couple’s extended families had never met, the newlyweds said their relatives bonded while dancing the hora during the reception.

Something old: The brunch the day after the wedding was held in the social hall of the Alameda Buddhist Temple, which Antonia’s great-grandparents, Akijiro and Tsuchino Nakano, helped to found 100 years ago, and where Antonia’s 92-year-old grandmother continues to go every week.

Something new: The entire wedding weekend was vegan (meaning no animal products were served) and therefore kosher.

They had a vegan barbeque for the families of the bride and groom at Antonia’s parents’ house in Albany and a rehearsal dinner at New World Vegetarian Restaurant in Oakland. The wedding reception featured vegetarian sushi appetizers from Suruki’s in Oakland, an Indian dinner buffet from Mehak Restaurant in Berkeley and wedding cakes from Black China Bakery in Santa Cruz. The brunch at the temple featured vegan catering from Fellini trattoria in Berkeley.

“Our guests were very well fed,” Antonia said.

All of the plates, cups and other paper products from the brunch were biodegradable. And for the couple’s registry, guests had the option of making a donation to Animal Acres, a sanctuary in Southern California for rescued farm animals.

The couple’s style was also eco-friendly. Scott wore a cotton suit, a recycled tie and an old family tallit and yarmulke. Antonia wore a vegan dress and vegan shoes (meaning neither contained silk, leather or wool) and had her hair and makeup done with cruelty-free Aveda products.

The wedding was so veg-tacular, it was featured in the 2008 vegan wedding issue of VegNews magazine.

Something borrowed: Scott and Antonia’s chuppah and ketubah represented a blend of Jewish and Japanese culture. The ketubah borrowed from the style of a traditional woodblock print, while the chuppah was built with bamboo poles and cloth printed with colorful Japanese art.

“If you squinted at it one way it looked like a traditional structure from Israel,” Scott said, “and if you squinted at it another way it looked like a traditional structure from Japan.”

Something Jew: The couple said they felt lucky to have found Rabbi Pamela Frydman Baugh, who counseled them before the wedding and helped the pair design their multicultural and interfaith ceremony.

“She reaffirmed our belief that interfaith marriage doesn’t weaken either culture or religion,” Scott said. “When taken seriously and joyfully, an interfaith union can deepen and broaden both of our religious selves and strengthen the identity of the Jewish people for generations to come.”

We want couples’ stories

If you know a couple that should be featured in Unions — and, yes, it can be you and your spouse — please contact Stacey Palevsky at [email protected]

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.