Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Israel News

Clicking Toward a Pastime of Yore

A California-based Web site is putting a new spin on Hanukkah this year, not with dreidels but with many a Jewish grandmother’s favorite pastime: mah jongg.

Starting after the Sabbath ends on Saturday, December 16, and continuing nightly through Saturday, December 23, the Web site mahjongtime.com will host the first-ever online Hanukkah mah jongg tournament.

Since the 1920s, when the ancient Chinese game first captured the American Jewish imagination, it has been associated with kibitzing Hadassah ladies sitting around card tables and drinking iced tea. It was primarily Jewish women who led to the creation of the National Mah Jongg League in 1937. The group now counts more than 275,000 members.

But don’t think they are all living in Miami Beach. Women in their 20s and 30s have been fueling a resurgence of the game in recent years, many yearning to reconnect with the culture of their grandparents. Mahjongtime.com is hoping to capitalize on this trend and pay homage to the American Jewish mah jongg tradition — just in time for the Festival of Lights and the holiday’s custom of friendly competition.

Top finishers can win money — and it won’t be made of chocolate. The four players at the final table will win cash prizes from $250 to $2,000, while every registered participant will receive a commemorative Hanukkah mah jongg tile. As a way to lure contestants, the Web site is offering an automated mah jongg table to the community center that registers the most players.

“It’s a very social game that takes a lot of thinking and strategy,” said William Sutjiadi, founder and CEO of mahjongtime.com. “It’s very easy to learn, but you need intelligence to win.”

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.