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A bat mitzvah surprise, on ice

By Cindy Mindell

Shirley Scholder knew pretty much what to expect as she traveled from her home in North Haven to her granddaughter’s bat mitzvah service in Westborough, Mass. last month. What she didn’t know about was the hilarious video that would follow at the evening celebration.

Scholder, along with most of the 200 guests at the Sheraton Framingham, had been kept in the dark for nearly six months while Sue and Mike Smith put together a surprise presentation for their daughter, Shayna, an avid figure skater who hones her skills at the North Star Figure Skating Club in Westborough.

“Susan said, ‘Mom, there’s going to be a surprise,’” Scholder says. “I said, ‘I love surprises,’ and she said, ‘That’s why we’re not telling you what it is.’”

The result, a parody video of the popular 2012 rap song, “Thrift Shop,” brought the house down and has gotten the attention of several skating websites.

Sue came up with the idea of using the song, renaming it “Skate Shop.” Mike suggested focusing on Shayna’s life at the skating club, casting friends, family, and fellow skating parents, and interspersing clips of Shayna on the ice. Mike wrote the parody song lyrics as well as the storyboard and script for the video, and recorded the audio with engineer Aart Knyff of Wrentham, Mass.

The Smiths found the same flashy costumes used in the original video – an oversized fur coat, orange zoot suit, and black-and-white polka-dot dress – on eBay and other online stores.

Mike, a bar/bat mitzvah tutor since his undergraduate days at Bowdoin College, coached Shayna for the service at Beth Tikvah Synagogue in Westborough, Mass., where Mike is vice president of the ritual committee. The video debuted at a rainforest-themed party at the nearby Sheraton Framingham, a surprise to everyone but the cast, some 20 guests of the 200 in attendance. Even Shayna’s 10-year-old brother Aaron had not yet seen the finished product and had managed to keep it a secret for two months, Sue says.

Scholder has lived in Greater New Haven since 1959, when she and her husband Paul relocated from Long Island. She joined Congregation Mishkan Israel in 1960 and soon became involved in the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, until it was dissolved this year. Sue grew up in North Haven and celebrated her own bat mitzvah at Mishkan Israel, where her mother is still an active member. After graduating from North Haven High School, she moved to Boston to attend Emerson College. She and Mike were married at Mishkan Israel. At Shayna’s bat mitzvah, Sue’s parents and sister Karen comprised the Connecticut contingent, along with a dozen family friends.

“Everyone loved the video,” Sue says. “Shayna was shocked, just completely shocked! It was so popular, in fact, that enough people requested that the DJ play it a second time, something he told us has never happened before.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise, Mike says, was that the U.S Figure Skating Association, the sport’s governing body, added the video to their Facebook page the day after the Smiths posted it on YouTube. The video was also picked up by and the national figure-skating blog,

Watch the video here:


Comments? email cindym@jewishledger

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