Saturday services were similar to Friday but “more”.  More people (every seat taken and a few people standing); more ceremony, such as actually taking the Torah scrolls out of the ark and parading them around (there were four huge beautiful ornate scrolls in the ark, though only one was taken out–I’m not sure what the other three were); more reading/singing by Jillian who did wonderfully as always; more time (over two hours of services plus lunch after–I took the kids out partway through to go for a walk around the neighbourhood because they were getting restless); more food (a whole lunch of bagels and creamcheese and locks and egg salad and tuna salad and rye bread and cakes and cakes and cakes.  And a few cakes.

The “sermon” this time was very biblically based, unlike yesterday’s.  They go through a cycle of scriptures, and happened to be at the exodus this week.  (I asked Helen why don’t they line it up so the exodus story happens around Passover, and she said the exodus story is exciting enough to be told any time. 🙂

I learned a couple more things:

The “stage” at the front of the synagogue is called a “bema”.

Thanks Mom for explaining the light is called the Everlasting Light.

I thought this event was particularly big and extravagant (especially the party in the evening which I’ll describe later, and the fact of family coming from all across the country) because this was the first bat mitzvah of this generation, but I’ve been assured be several people now that this is very normal and all of this excitement will happen again for every child.  It’s every bit as important to a Jewish family as a wedding.  So we’d better start saving up now for Zach’s bar mitzvah in the summer of 2009!

The synagogue actually has a sign on the door with a “brief introduction to Sabbath”.  Among other things it asks that we refrain from taking pictures and from drawing, not so much because those are “work” but because they are “transforming the world”.  We are to transform the world six days of the week, but the day of rest is a day to leave the world alone and to “transform yourself”.  I like that description much better than a legalistic “thou shalt not work” attitude.

We had a few hours of the afternoon before the reception at the Hyatt.  We visited with Dad at his gorgeous hotel in gorgeous sunshine next to a gorgeous pool with our swimsuits back at our own hotel 30-minutes’ drive away.  😦  Then drove back to our place for a nap.  I’ll describe the reception later–this morning we’re on our way out to brunch at cousins Stacey and Lisa’s house, the last of the “official” celebration events.