MAH JONGG* night at GHC

Thursday January 27, 2011 at 8:15pm

Published: Monday, January 3, 2011 7:00 am By: Betty Krulik
MAH JONGG* night at GHC
Thursday January 27, 2011 at  8:15pm

Greenburgh Hebrew Center's Sisterhood is sponsoring Mah Jongg night, $5.00 per person. All levels of expertise are invited to play. Wine and snacks will be served.

For further information, contact event chair, Lynn Berliner at mahjongg@g-h-c.org or the office at 914-693-4260.


*Mahjong in the Western world (from Wikipeadia)

In 1895, Stewart Culin, an American anthropologist, wrote a paper in which mahjong was mentioned. This is the first known written account of mahjong in any language other than Chinese. By 1910, there were written accounts in many languages, including French and Japanese.

The game was imported to the United States in the 1920s.The first mahjong sets sold in the U.S. were sold by Abercrombie & Fitch starting in 1920.It became a success in New York, and the owner of the company, Ezra Fitch, sent emissaries to Chinese villages to buy every set of mahjong they could find. Abercrombie & Fitch sold a total of 12,000 sets.

Also in 1920, Joseph Park Babcock published his book Rules of Mah-Jongg, also known as the "red book". This was the earliest version of mahjong known in America. Babcock had learned mahjong while living in China. Babcock's rules simplified the game to make it easier for Americans to take up, and his version was common through the mahjong fad of the 1920s. Later, when the 1920s fad died out, many of Babcock's simplifications were abandoned.

The game has taken on a number of trademarked names, such as "Pung Chow" and the "Game of Thousand Intelligences". Mahjong nights in America often involved dressing and decorating rooms in Chinese style. Several hit songs were also recorded during the mahjong fad, most notably "Since Ma is Playing Mah Jong" by Eddie Cantor.

Many variants of mahjong developed during this period. By the 1930s, many revisions of the rules developed that were substantially different from Babcock's classical version (including some that were considered fundamentals in other variants, such as the notion of a standard hand). The most common form, which eventually became "American mahjong", was most popular among Jewish women. Standardization came with the formation of the National Mah Jongg League (NMJL) in 1937, along with the first American mahjong rulebook, Maajh: The American Version of the Ancient Chinese Game.

While mahjong was accepted by U.S. players of all ethnic backgrounds during the Babcock era, many consider the modern American version a remake of a Jewish game,as many American mahjong players are of Jewish descent. The National Mah Jongg League was founded by Jewish players and is considered a Jewish organization. In addition, players usually use the American game as a family-friendly social activity, not as gambling.