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Mah Jongg Mania

Mah Jongg Mania

American Beginnings

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 6:30 pm

Listen to audio from the program

Since the 1920s, the game of mah jongg has ignited the American imagination with its beautiful tiles, mythical origins, and communal spirit. Celebrate Chinese New Year with an exploration of how the “game of a thousand wonders” became a national pastime. Learn about its role at the World’s Columbian Exposition and elite social clubs. Probe its popularity in Chinatown, Hollywood, and suburban Jewish living rooms. Visitors joined in as mah jongg mavin Melissa Martens shared the fascinating history and meaning of mah jongg in America.

Visitors came wth interest in learning the basics of the game. They joined Mah Jongg instructor Michelle Krawitz following Melissa Martens' presentation.

Melissa Martens is the Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and creator of their Project Mah Jongg
exhibit, now touring nationally. She has worked at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Newberry Library and serves as Vice-Chair of the Council of American Jewish Museums. (
Photo by Melanie Einzig.)

Michelle Krawitz has been playing Mah Jongg for over 20 years.  She gives lessons at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park.