While Mah Jongg, a game of skill, calculation, and chance involving 136 tiles, may have originated in China (with alternate variations found in Japan and Korea), Gravity Goldberg, Manager of Public Programs at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, tells us that Mah Jong, or Mahj for short, happens to be "hugely popular with little old Jewish ladies." Further evidence of this truth rests in the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and the Skirball Cultural Center in L.A., which both had recent exhibitions about Mah Jongg. Of course, it's not only Jewish elders who love the game, evidenced by the fact that the first Mah Jongg sets sold in the U.S. came from that bastion of hip, shirtless youth, Abercrombie & Fitch. All ages and skill levels are welcome to attend Mah Jongg Open Play, which is led by Mahj Maven Sara Linden. The event does tend to sell out, so get your tickets early because there's only room for 56 players. When asked whether the games tend to be competitive, Goldberg said, "The ladies (mostly ladies) do take it very serious -- they don’t like ambient noise other than the tiles -- play now, gossip later." Lest you think it's all business up in this house of tiles, we'd like to point you to its delightfully playful catchphrase: "Get your mahj on!" See you on the flip side.
Sun., Sept. 9, 1 p.m., 2012