Thursday, December 30, 2010

Better than the Super Bowl: It’s a Mah Jongg Marathon!

Mah jongg mavens now have a great excuse to do nothing but play for 6 hours. On February 6, which is Super Bowl Sunday, we’ll be hosting a mah jongg marathon to benefit the Museum of Jewish Heritage. As you may know, mah jongg has a long philanthropic history. We can’t wait to put the fun back in fundraiser!

The day begins at 12 noon and will include special theme hours, prizes, and the chance to play a hand or two with some very special guests. So put the chili in the crock pot and bring your best game face. The marathon will conclude at 6 p.m., just before kick-off. All levels are welcome as is creative dress.

Interested parties should register online or by phone (646.437.4224). You can register with a team or by yourself. Then ask friends and family members to sponsor you. You can even create your own fundraising page and send it out to everyone you know.

For more details contact

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Whoa, That Was Some Storm

We have greeted visitors from Texas and Japan over the past two days and each staff member (those who have managed to get in) has a story of commuting by hurdling drifts or shoveling for hours. It’s a stalwart crew we have down here. But yes, indeed, we are open for business.

The National Museum of the American Indian is also open for business, but you wouldn’t know it based on this photo. Now, in their defense, I took this picture this morning. I’m sure their entrance is shoveled, de-iced, salted, and otherwise pristine by now.

And speaking of our snowy neighbors, I received a really fabulous e-mail from our friends at the Museum at Eldridge Street, letting us know they, too, are open for business. Here’s the pic they sent along that just made me smile.

It’s winter break – visit a Museum. And by the way, our cafe serves hot chocolate.

Hope to see you soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yet More Jews and Chinese Food

On Nov. 7 we presented a wonderful program on the fascinating topic of Jews and Chinese food with authors Jennifer 8. Lee, Donald Siegel, and Andrew Coe. Since Dec. 25 is just around the corner, we thought you might be interested in this video Forward reporter Allison Gaudet Yarrow put together about our program. It appears on the Jew and the Carrot Blog on the Forward site.

Just a reminder that we are closed this Dec. 25 (a traditional Jews and Chinese food kind-of-day) because it is Shabbat, but we will be open on Dec. 26 for a day of Mah Jongg Mania. Films for grown ups, games for mavens, crafts for kids, and the café is serving Egg Rolls, Vegetable Lo Mein and some other goodies. We open at 10 a.m.

For our family, friends, and fans celebrating the holiday, we wish you a Chag Sameach.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Culture Exchange

This blog is from Monica, one of our Museum Educators.

On Monday, December 6, 18 students from Trinity-Pawling School in Upstate New York visited the Project Mah Jongg exhibition. These students were part of a Mandarin class that had been studying about the game of mah jongg and its Chinese history. The teacher, Amber Rydberg, saw an ad for the exhibition this summer in Time Out New York and decided to take her students to the Museum to learn about the Jewish history of the game.

Although we’ve had adult groups from all over the country come to see the exhibit, this was the first group of students to visit. I was very excited to work with them. When I started the tour I asked them what they had learned about mah jongg. The students were eager to tell me all about the Chinese history of the game. They explained that they had been studying the game in the class and had learned how to play the game two different ways. The students were able to connect what they learned in class to what they saw in the exhibit. They were drawn to the sets, tiles, and the influence of the game in Jewish culture. After I finished the tour the students sat down to play. They played a Chinese version of the game and the teacher explained how the rules differ from the standard American rules.

Amber said, “It was a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast cultures and see how Chinese culture has influenced other cultures over the years, especially one in our own back yard. They really enjoyed seeing the different sets of mah jongg and actually getting to play it at the museum!”

All in all it was a learning experience for me as well as for these 18 young men.

Photo by Amber Rydberg of some of the students who came to visit the exhibition.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Caution – Completely Nerdy and Cranky Blog Ahead

Ahh, December and the MTA. Remember 2005 when they were giving holiday bonus rides because of some fabulous surplus? Then the transit union was on strike mere weeks later? Oh, if only this blog existed then…I get misty just thinking about it.

Various fares are scheduled to go up December 30, but in the spirit of the season I want to say something positive about the MTA. Starting last Friday, it is now possible to transfer from Lawrence Street – MetroTech to Jay St. Borough Hall in one fell swoop. It means that all the folks in Brooklyn taking the A, C, or F can transfer to an R, and magically they will be at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in two more stops.

Will this transfer make your Manhattan friends say, “Oh, I heard about this new transfer. I will totally come out to Brooklyn to visit you now.” Probably not, but on the other hand, there are far fewer stairs at this new transfer point than there are at the 9th St-4th Ave stop in Brooklyn when transferring to the F. And if you previously ventured into the outside world to walk between the two downtown Brooklyn stations, you can stay underground and reasonably warm.

And for those of you who just took an F to A and then transferred to a 4 to get to the Museum, an entire train has been eliminated.

During these harsh days of winter it is good to plan ahead so that you spend the least possible amount of time outside. And if you are really cold, look at the information about the increasing fares. That should raise your temperature a few degrees.

Photo: Taken Dec. 21, 2005, this was my traveling outfit during the strike. Santa hat resulted in rides with strangers to work everyday, and kept me warm on the cold walks home.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Feelin' Groovy

Yes, it’s true, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed that the 59th Street Bridge be renamed for his predecessor and one of our founding chairmen, the Honorable Mayor Edward I. Koch. We’re delighted that this honor will be bestowed on Mayor Koch while he is still crossing bridges and can say to a cabbie, “Please take the Koch Bridge!” As Mayor Koch himself acknowledged, “It’s not soaring, beautiful, handsome, like the George Washington or the Verrazano,” he said. “It’s rugged, it’s hard working — and that’s me.”

Also in bridge and tunnel news, the State Legislature is voting to name the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel for former Governor Hugh Carey, who will be turning 92. As tenants of the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority, we can appreciate the ring of the Carey Tunnel. It sounds very homey and grassroots, like the bridge in my hometown named for Karl L. King, composer of many types of music, including more than 180 marches.

Regardless of your preferred route for interboro transportation, we wish these men and their infrastructures many, many years of longevity.

Photo: Sgt. Edward I. Koch leaving for the United States from Hamburg, Germany, 1946. Collection of Edward I. Koch.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Come Out from the Cold This Winter

We know it is hard to take off your fuzzy slippers during the winter and head outside, but we’ve got some really compelling reasons to get off the couch this season. We’re happy to announce that our January, February, and March programs are now on sale. If you have finished your Hanukkah shopping, please feel free to read ahead. If not, bookmark this link and read it later. Not to nag, but you know Hanukkah is almost over, right?

So, back to winter programming... Foreign film enthusiasts will want to take note of the Museum’s Hungarian film festival featuring several Oscar nominated films. Family fare includes The Hatseller and the Monkeys, a special Tu B’shevat musical storytelling performance, and a funky Purim concert by audience favorite Mama Doni.

Other highlights include: NBC’s Martin Fletcher discussion of his wonderful book Walking Israel with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell; the 30th anniversary screening of the landmark film Playing for Time with cast members and the producer; not to mention a plethora of other films, book talks, theater performances, and exhibition previews.

photo: the poster for Fateless, one of the films that will be shown as part of our Hungarian film festival.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

We wish you an enlightening Festival of Lights and a season of miracles. Normally we like to share a latke recipe or two, but this year we have a more personal gift.

Hannah Senesh, at the age of 12, wrote this Hanukkah poem. The handwritten original is in the Fire in My Heart exhibition, and I particularly enjoy her little calligraphed flourishes between stanzas. The poem was written on Dec. 10, 1933 in Budapest. The translation is by George (Gyorgy) Greskovits.

It is Hanukkah, and the candle flames flare
And all Jewish hearts beat, throb, bare.

We recall the image of heroes
The disappeared ancient peoples.

The period of Pharaohs, the Greek oppression
neither could break our will for expression.

We took the Torah, took it with us
We drew faith from it into all of us.

We walked through the plains hungry and thirsty,
but God was with us, so we were never lonely.

And we who stem from such ancestry
should not despair, but continue to fight
as we are reassured by the candle light;
do not quail Israel, there is still hope.

See all of the poems we printed in conjunction with the exhibition available in the Pickman Museum Shop.