Pronunciation: ˈzhän-rə, ˈzhäⁿ-; ˈzhäⁿr; ˈjän-rə
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Middle French, kind, gender — more at gender
Date: 1770

1 : a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content
2 : kind, sort
3 : painting that depicts scenes or events from everyday life, usually realistically

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Linda told you that there would be guest contributors to this blog, and I’m honored to be the first. Let me introduce myself to you–Simon Rieger-as I did for the first time to Lily Kovner on that fateful afternoon at the Judaica auction when her family’s Seder plate showed up on the block.

Like everyone else at the auction, I was shocked by her outburst.  These auctions are sedate and refined.  Maybe not so fancy and formal as Sotheby’s or Christie’s–but low-key and dignified.  What shocked me most was how disgracefully everyone treated her, the people in the audience and the ones running the auction.  Sure, she interrupted the proceedings, but her charge was serious, at least serious enough for the Mosaica woman to withdraw the Seder plate and end the auction.  I couldn’t believe that no one talked to Lily or bothered to even ask about what she said; they just got up and left.  Totally shunned her on the way out. Without a glance her way.  Close to one hundred people.

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