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Mah Jongg Mania: American Beginnings

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. Join us as Mah Jongg mavin Melissa Martens shares the fascinating history and meaning of Mah Jongg in America.

Interested in learning the basics of the game? Need pointers? Join 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.

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

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