The two services are what gave Jillian the official title of Bat Mitzvah.  Saturday night was the celebration.  And what a celebration!  This was as big a deal as any wedding.  Beginning at 6:30 with an open bar in the lobby of the soaring Crowne Plaza Hotel (not the Hyatt as I originally mis-reported), then moving to the ballroom for dining and dancing. 

The first thing to happen in the ballroom was to call in the family of honour to tumultuous applause:  parents, then siblings, then Jillian herself looking like a model on a red carpet.  Before the meal we had the havdalah, officially closing the Sabbath.  I didn’t quite follow it all, but it involved lighting a four-wicked braided candle, chanting/singing/saying various blessings, more wine and bread, and at the end putting out the flame.  I think this is the first Jewish tradition I’ve seen where you don’t let the candle burn all the way down.

Next Jillian lit thirteen candles, or rather invited up thirteen groups of people, one at a time, each group lighting a candle.  She would introduce the person or people she was inviting, tell everyone a few words about them, then they’d light the candle together and give her a hug and their personal congratulations.  Helen, Shana, Kenan and I were pleasantly surprised to be included in one of the groups, so that was another special part we got to play.

Around a hundred children at their own tables on one end of the room helped themselves to Oreos and Rice Crispy Squares and other appetizers before filing past the kids’ buffet of chicken fingers and hamburgers–if there were any vegetables on that end of the room I sure didn’t see them on the kids’ plates.  Interfering parents definitely not welcome; this was a party for the kids!  Shana was reveling in her independance.

The parents, meanwhile, enjoyed an elegant dinner of salmon, veggies, potatoes, salad, and a rice and mushroom dish that was to die for, followed by a rich chocolate cake, all in oversized portions.

A professional photographer captured everything on film silicone, and an energetic (and acrobatic) DJ entertained the kids with games while the parents ate, then opened up the dance floor.  He and the open bar did a great job of loosening everyone up, occasionally bringing out extras like bubbles, beads and balloons.  Parents and kids together danced the night away.

We dragged ourselves away around 11 pm–I think the party wrapped up around midnight for the last hardy few–and were in our hotel room in time for the kids to see the clock change from pm to am.  I think they were snoring a few minutes later.