Recalling the Craze for a Game of Chance
- Created on Friday, 19 March 2010 11:31
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 18:00
- Written by Martin Rep
NEW YORK - How come an all-Asian game like mahjong has become so popular amongst Jewish people in the United States ever since its introduction in the nineteen-twenties? According to Melissa Martens, quoted in yesterday’s New York Times, the craze was a novel form of entertainment for a new leisure class and paralleled a middle-class taste for Asian-style interior decoration as well as a “Jewish interest in Chinese food”. Melissa Martens is the curator of “Project Mah Jongg,” an extensive exhibit opening at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 4 and continuing through December.
The event has drawn the attention of the New York Times; an extensive article about it was published yesterday, and made available on its website.
The “Project Mah Jongg” exhibition will be in the 1,000-square-foot hexagonal gallery of the pyramidlike Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park, and will include dozens of artifacts — scorecards, aprons, packages, tiles — chronicling both the commercial legacy and social history of the game.
The exhibits include the games and printed material, photographs of people (mostly women) playing and an audio component (echoing the clatter of plastic tiles and random chatting).