The Janet Gordon Annual Mah Jongg Day: Playing with a purpose

November 20, 2017

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In 2010, the Janet Gordon Mah Jongg Tournament began as a tribute to Janet Gordon and as a way to raise funds for Beth Sholom Village, the community’s only Jewish skilled nursing, rehab, and assisted living facility. Seven years later, it is still that and so much more.

This year’s event featured some obvious differences from previous years: it took place on a Sunday instead of a weekday; it was more of a day of play than a tournament; and brunch was served, not lunch. These small changes yielded a big impact, with significant dollars raised.

Fifteen new players attended this year’s event—with several of those women visiting Beth Sholom Village for the first time. Debbie Patish Smith, one of the new players, says that she watched her mom playing while she was growing up. Smith says she loved the sound of the tiles clacking together and players calling out, “Bam,” “Crack” and “Dot.” Smith did not take up Mah Jongg until recently when her sisterin- law, Dana Patish encouraged her to attend the Mah jongg classes, which were informal and included adult beverages, snacks, and new friends. She says that it was fun to sit around a table with other women and chat and play. “We get caught up with our phones, and other devices. This was a great distraction,” she says.

The theme, Year of the Rooster, was a creative masterpiece designed by Kim Nolette. Colorful rooster paintings and decorations adorned the tables and hung from the ceilings, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Beth Sholom residents helped make the cutting board design as a give-away to each player. Paintings by residents were raffled as prizes.

The “bruncheon” food was an absolute standout this year. In addition to traditional menu items such as sweet egg soufflé, more creative and delicious dishes included salmon with Abie Washington’s secret seasonings that accompanied a fresh salad full of greens. The pumpkin spice cupcake dessert was the show stopper with its sweet cream cheese topping made by Jackie, the Village baker.

BSV’s outstanding committee of volunteers is already working on next year’s event. While changes are anticipated to accomodate everyone, the main theme of playing with a purpose will remain.

—Beth Sholom Village is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

- Marcia Brodie

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