Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Rachel
READY FOR OUR CLOSE UP
Some of you may have been pleasantly surprised last Sunday morning as the JMM made its (very short) debut on national television with CBS Sunday Morning. You can view their “Mah Jongg Madness” piece online here. Pay close attention just before the 2:00 minute mark for our on-screen appearance! Successful marketing and publicity is a combination of hard work, inspiration and, honestly, luck. With CBS Sunday Morning and Project Mah Jongg, luck was certainly on our side, but it’s the hard work that’s brought us such a great crop of local publicity.
Leisure-class ladies playing a floating game of mah jongg, 1924.
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Many thanks go to Rochelle Eisenberg, the public relations manager we work with at The Associated. Her efforts on our behalf are unparalleled – maybe you saw us on the front page of The Baltimore Sun’s Arts & Entertainment section on Sunday (who can resist our pool-playing mah jongg mavens?). The lovely article by Mary Carole McCauley, which you can read here, wouldn’t have come about without Rochelle’s tireless work.
Perhaps you saw the wonderful cover story by Heather Norris in the Baltimore Jewish Times, which you can also read here. That story has been shared with the Washington Jewish Week and will be run in Pittsburgh’s Jewish Chronicle! The Baltimore Beacon also ran a lovely exhibit preview in March.
If that’s not enough Project Mah Jongg reading for you, Marvin has also written a great post on Mah Jongg and Cultural Adaptation, currently published on The Associated’s blog. UMBC, home of the exhibit’s sound designer, Tim Nohe, has also been calling attention to the exhibit. Then there’s the post over on AsAmNews, “What’s a mah jong exhibit doing at a Jewish Museum?” It seems lots of folks are just as excited as we are about Project Mah Jongg!
But we’re not resting on our laurels! Capitalizing on the interest in the exhibit we’ve arranged an aggressive marketing campaign. In the week leading up to the opening (and with some helpful bonus spots – thanks to our account agent over at WMAR), we ran ads on ABC2 morning programs to reach out to our local audience. And in addition to our normal membership mailing, we sent postcard invitations to the Jewish population of Northwest Baltimore and Owings Mills.
Now that the exhibit has opened we are keeping the momentum going. If you attend any upcoming shows at Centerstage, the Hippodrome, Everyman Theater or the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, keep an eye out for our ads in the program! And of course we are publicizing the exhibit and its related programming through our Facebook pages, twitter feed, website and emails like these – so be sure you’ve “liked” us and followed us and share our events and emails with anyone you think would enjoy Project Mah Jongg. And, in our opinion, everyone will enjoy this delightful exhibit!
This month’s Performance Counts was written by Rachel Kassman, Marketing Manager (and web maven!)
Posted on April 7th, 2014 by Rachel
Last spring it was Zap! Pow! Bam! This spring it is Crack! Dot! Bam! Project Mah Jongg is officially open for business. Come down and let the beautiful 1920s games inspire you and then let yourself play. What a great way to share a bit of Jewish cultural history with your friends and neighbors! The exhibit will be open through June 26th.
(And guys… I am talking for a minute to just the guys here … Mah Jongg was originally played by Chinese MEN [and still is]… there couldn’t be a better time to reclaim our heritage and learn to play this game. Anyone who wants to participate in an evening program for “Men Mastering Mahj” should contact Trillion Attwood at the e-mail account below.)
Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / email@example.com. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org.
Late Night on Lloyd Street: Hungry for Charoset
Tuesday, April 8, 6:00 – 9:00pm
Our next Late Night on Lloyd Street!
Time to get ready for Passover. Create, enjoy and devour charoset, the iconic holiday treat that is a signature element of the Seder plate and meal. Traditionally made with honey, apples, wine and walnuts- this tasty treat is sure to please and we encourage visitors to think beyond traditional ingredients (avocado, banana, and agave nectar, anyone?) Participants will also design a spring-themed placemat to donate to Meals on Wheels.
Family Game Day
Sunday, April 20, 11:00am to 3:00pm
Program free with Museum admission
Fun for the whole family!
Join us for a fun day of gaming for the whole family! We will have a whole range of games waiting to be played suitable for any age. Play one of the old favorites or learn something new as a family.
In honor of our newest exhibition, Project Mah Jongg, staff will be on hand to teach the game to novices. For younger players, we will teach our slightly adapted version, still plenty of fun but not quite as confusing! Feel free to bring the whole family or come on your own, as there will be opponents ready and waiting!
Beyond Dreidel: The Games We’ve Played
Sunday, April 27, 1:00pm
Speaker: Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director, Jewish Museum of Maryland
Program free with Museum admission
A dreidel from our own collections, 1996.062.004.
The die is cast. In preparing to host Project Mah Jongg, JMM executive director and board game enthusiast, Marvin Pinkert has been investigating the bigger picture of Jewish involvement with games across at least four millennia. See some of the surprising facts he has discovered about the Jews who played chess, bridge, and other table games. Learn how Jewish promoters, packagers and salesmen created some of the most popular game trends of the last century. Marvin promises new insights for game mavens and novices alike.
Lessons Learned, Lessons Shared
Yom Ha’Shoah Baltimore Jewish Council 2014 Holocaust Commemoration
Sunday, April 27, 5:00pm
Beth Tfiloh Congregation (Rosen Art Center), 3300 Old Court Road
Featuring Key Note Speaker, Menachem Rosensaft
For more information, contact 410-542-4850 or rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org
Save The Date
The Eight Annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch Memorial Program
From Poverty to Culture: The Refugee Community in Shanghai During World War II
Sunday, May 18, 2:00pm
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
Admission is free
The Risch Memorial program is the largest and most important annual event in our calendar year. Each year it focuses on a different aspect of the topic of immigration. This year, as JMM looks at cultural ties between China and the Jewish Community through its Project Mah Jongg exhibit, we have invited a very special expert on the Jews of East Asia, Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, to be our featured speaker. Rabbi Tokayer is the former chief rabbi of Tokyo and author of the Fugu Plan. You won’t want to miss this powerful evocation of how the 20,000 Jews of Shanghai struggled against impossible odds to not only survive, but thrive in this unexpected site of refuge.
The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org. For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook.
MATZA FACTORY: A Hands-On Matza-Baking Demonstration
Sunday, April 6 from 2:00-4:00 pm
B’nai Israel, 27 Lloyd St., 21202
Jewish Genealogical Society of Maryland Meeting
Sunday, April 27, 1:00-3:00 pm
Harry and Jeanette Weinberg JCC, 5700 Park Heights Avenue
Tammy Hepps presents “Trees and Stories on Treelines.com” Program is free for JGSMD members and $5 for non-members. For more information, check out www.jewishgen.org/JGS-Maryland.
Get your very own Mah Jongg set!
Exhibits currently on display at the JMM include Project Mah Jongg (on display through June 29),Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, The Synagogue Speaks!
Jews on the Move: Baltimore and the Suburban Exodus, 1945 – 1968 travels to Beth Israel Synagogue (3706 Crondall Lane, Owings Mills) where it will be on display March 31-April 11.
Hours and Tour Times
The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm. We offer tours of our historic synagogues each day at 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00.
The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 email@example.com.
Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.
All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street. Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchase online! For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROJECT MAH JONGG is Here!
Pick up a Mah Jongg set of your very own!
The Museum Shop is the place to shop for your favorite Mah Jongg must-have pieces…your game will be on-game! These are only a SAMPLE of what you will find! See you at the tables!
Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 / email@example.com
Posted on March 27th, 2014 by Rachel
We are just a few days away from the opening of Project Mah Jongg. Throughout the last month the team has busily been preparing. Ilene has been developing activities for kids, Trillion has been working on program concepts and Rachel has been applying her creativity to ways to let people know the exhibit is here.
As for me, I’ve been using my weekends to research a little bit about the history of Jews and board games. This is a convenient convergence of the needs of the project and my personal interests. I have been in the museum business 25 years, but I’ve been playing board games – nearly continuously – for at least 55 years; moving from the childhood classics (Candyland, Monopoly, Risk, Stratego) to the 3M games of the 1960s to Baltimore’s own Avalon Hill war games of the 1970s to the rail games of the 1980s and the Eurogames of the 1990s. I have somewhere around 150 board games in the basement, not enough to make me a collector, but more than enough to have my wife wince every time she sees a new box come through the door. To prepare for the exhibit I have also learned Mah Jongg (it’s tough work, but someone has to do it).
A staff Mah Jongg lesson.
Since we signed up for the exhibit, I have been intriguing audiences with the question “how did a game for Chinese menbecome a pastime for Jewish women?” The empirical answer to this question involves Jewish flappers of the 1920s and Jewish charitable fundraising in the 1930s. But this statement of facts sidesteps a more interesting question about Mah Jongg as an example of cultural adaptation. Mah Jongg is just one example of many things that both Jews and non-Jews would point to as culturally Jewish that have no theological basis, no connection to Torah or Talmud – e.g. bagels on Sunday morning, Borscht Belt shtick, discount camera supplies.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Abba Eban-narrated PBS series, Heritage: Civilization and the Jews. The point of the series was that Judaism had not merely survived 4,000 years of contact with other cultural communities, it had actually helped shape (and in turn was shaped by) those contacts. With the passage of enough time we often loose our awareness of cultural adaptations and assume that our customs are native to our history. In researching games, I found a fascinating example: dreidel. Like many of you, I grew up thinking that the game of dreidel was contemporary with the Maccabees. But with a little on-line searching I learned that the game probably becomes a part of Hanukah in the 17th century. The dreidel is based on a top called a teetotum and a game known as “put and take” that originated in England in the 1400s. In the following century, the top moves to Germany where it gains some familiar letters – G for “ganze”, H for “halb”, N for “nicht” and S for “stell ein” meaning “put in”. It became a popular Christmas game in Germany. Like “potato latkes” (19th century) and “gift giving” (20th century), dreidel is a piece of the Hanukah celebration borrowed from our neighbors and given new meaning in a Jewish context.
Of course at this time of year my senses are more likely to be excited by the anticipation of matzah kugel than the memory of latkes. However, Passover too is a great example of the history of cultural adaptation – running the gamut from ancient rites of spring to the Roman custom of free men reclining to the contemporary examples of suffering and depredation often invoked during the recounting of our bondage in Egypt. I have often looked at the seder as an archeological dig, not only through Jewish history, but through all the cultures we have touched.
So perhaps it is not as unusual as it seems to include Mah Jongg among our adapted treasures. We have made the meld and now it’s a part of us.
A blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts from Marvin, click here.