Date: 2nd Wednesday of each month (usually) at 6:30pm
Place: Panama Hotel/Tea House in Seattle
(in international district: http://www.panamahotelseattle.com/teahouse.htm)
Fee: $2 per game to be given to a local charity
If you have a Mah Jongg set, please bring it!
Also, food will be available for purchase. We like to support the teahouse through our food/drink purchases so they welcome us back. Schmooze, nosh and Mah Jongg with us! All are welcome.
Why Mah Jongg? It's the Jewish thing to do!
You might be asking why a game, originating in China, would be such a popular game among American Jewry. From Shanghai to Miami Beach, we see Mah Jongg tournaments and many organizations sponsoring Mah Jongg related events in order to drum up charity. But how, and why, did it find its way into Jewish communities?
One reason for this dates back to the time of World War II. Shanghai was one of the only cities that did not require an entry visa; this was vital for European Jewry escaping the Nazis. Their flight through Russia, Japan and then down into Shanghai brought them into a new cultural world. By involving themselves in the Chinese life to some extent, they most likely learned to play Mah Jongg. As European Jewry started to trickle out of China due to postwar emigration, Mah Jongg came with them and entered the Jewish communities of the United States.
Many of the founders of the National Mah Jongg League were Jewish. During World War II, the game became a hit in Jewish women's groups across the United States and the concept of giving game money to charitable organizations spread like wildfire. Even today, the National Mah Jongg League contributes upwards of $600,000 per year - to Jewish and other causes.
While the Chinese version of Mah Jongg greatly resembles gin rummy (except using tiles), the American version adopted by American Jewry differs a bit. The American version requires a Mah Jongg set with 152 tiles - 8 more additional tiles than the Chinese version. These additional 8 tiles are Jokers, and most American versions require the use of racks. The other tiles, however, are mostly the same with minor variations in style, artistry and colors. However, the main difference in the American game play is that it relies on the use of a card of "hands". This card is put out by the National Mah Jongg League each year. Each player should not only have a card but also become very familiar with this card in order to know what winning combinations are Mah Jongg hands. While different than the Chinese version, this is the version that has become widely known in the Jewish communities across the country and the version we shall aspire to learn.
Mah Jongg Fever and Tzedakah
Mah Jongg has captured the hearts of many with the beautiful tiles, the clicking of the tiles, and the social aspects that this game brings. Come and experience the fever armed with tzedakah. A recommended donation will be $2 per game. A list of charitable organizations will be out so you can give to the charity of your choice. Play for fun, meet new and old faces, and play to make the world a better place. Food and beverages will be available for a small fee.
National Mah Jongg League cards will be available for purchase in April 2008. Until the cards come, we will familiarize ourselves with the tiles, playing the Chinese version until people get comfortable with the concept of the game. Then we will switch to the American version.
Come fix the world with your tzedakah and enjoy some Mah Jongg!
For more reading on how Mah Jongg thrives in our Jewish communities, check out these articles on the web: