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SPRING 2002 RECOMMENDED JEWISH BOOKS

BOOK READINGS

March 6, 2002: Binnie Kirshenbaum reads from HESTER AMONG THE RUINS, B&N, W 82nd, NYC 7:30
March 7, 2002: Elizabeth Ehrlich, author of Miriams Kitchen, speaks at Scarsdale Conservative Congregation, NY, 7:30 PM
March 11, 2002: LeslieEpstein (King of the Jews) and David Grossman (Yellow Wind) read at 92 St Y, NYC 8 PM
March 13, 2002: Aryeh Lev Stollman and Ben Shranl and Ellen Miller read from their works. 7:30 PM. KGB Bar 85 E 4th St Jcnyc.org
March 13, 2002: Blake Eskin reads from his book on BinjaminWilkomoirski. Coner bookstore. 1313 Madison, NYC 7 PM
March 14, 2002: Emily Benedek reads from THROUGH THE UNKNOWN, REMEMBERED GATE: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY, B&N, DALLAS, TX. 7:30
March 18, 2002: Professor Hasia Diner reads from HER WORKS PRAISE HER. A HISTORY OF JEWISH WOMEN...., B&N, W 82nd, NYC 7:30
March 21, 2002: Harvard Law Prof. Frank Wu reads from YELLOW: RACE IN AMERICA BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE, B&N, Philadelphia. 7:00
March 26, 2002: Jimmy Breslin from THE SHORT SWEET DREAM OF EDUARDO GUTIERREZ, B&N, W 82nd, NYC 7:30

April 10, 2002: Rough Cut: Writers on the Edge - Ellen Miller & Dave Czuchlewski. JCCNYC.org KGB Bar 85 E 4th St NYC 7:30 PM
April 17, 2002: Melvin Jules Bukiet reads from NOTHING SETS YOU FREE (writing by the second generation), B&N, W 82nd, NYC 7:30
April 18, 2002: Jonathan Safran Foer reads from EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED, B&N, 6th Ave at 22nd St, NYC 7:30


MARCH 2002

[book] THE SHORT SWEET DREAM OF EDUARDO GUTIERREZ
by Jimmy Breslin

March 2002. Justice shall you pursue. Thanks Jimmy. This is Jimmy Breslin at his best, it reads like he talks, which can cause you to read a sentence twice, but you get used to it. Eduardo Gutierrez was an illegal immigrant from Mexico; he was barely 21 years old when he was killed in a construction accident in Brooklyn on November 23, 1999. Born in San Matías Cuatchatyotla, born to a very shy 15 year old woman, he lived a lonely life filled with fear in Brighton Beach, sharing one bathroom and an apartment with 8 other men. His life ended in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. This is a sad tale. Eduardo fell three stories and drowned in cement. So you might ask me, what makes this a Jewish story? Well the builder, his employer, hired and exploited his illegal workers with impunity. Breslin characterizes him as "a crook with blueprints." Everyone knew his long record of violations, but he was untouchable; he was a friend of Giuliani administration, his bagman had given Giuliani's campaign $83,000 in 1996. Eugene Ostereicher and his son Richie (police chaplain wannabee) were politically connected in the powerful Satmar-Hasidic community. Like so many others, he exploited illegal, undocumented workers, and even screwed over the people who bought his units. He also built shoddy structures. In 1993, a city inspector cited his construction project as the worst building he had seen in a decade. After Eduardo's death, the press forgot about him. But Breslin went to his funeral in Mexico and came back to the USA over the border like the illegal workers. This is Eduardo's recreated story, filled with stories of his struggle to get to NYC and the aftermath of his death. And if u ever see Richie, who ran away to Belgium rather than face the law, kick him for us. Click to read more.







[book cover click here] GERSHOM SCHOLEM: A LIFE IN LETTERS 1914-1982
Edited and Translated by Anthony David (fellow, hebrew university).

March 26, 2002. Harvard university press. JUST IN TIME FOR PASSOVER. A treasure. You are probably familiar with the 23 years of letters that were exchanged between Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, but this book contains new translation of some of these intellectually important letters as well as letter between Scholem and his mother, family, and friends, about serious issues, like Marxism, Zionism (the return of Jews to their own history), Jew-baiting, cabala, 1492 versus 1938, assimilation, Martin Buber, Immanuel Kant, Hegel, Buddha, politics, scholarship, and . Much of it appears for the first time. Scholem (1894-1982) was the 20th century's premier scholar of Jewish mysticism. Click to read more.









Readers ask us... Hey, What were the top selling Jewish books in 2001?
We answer, some of the top sellers were: (the non Jewish books are included for the sake of comparison; the Jewish books are bolded)

The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson (6/00) 8,439,540 copies.
A Painted House by John Grisham, mass paper, 3,100,000+ copies
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant in paperback, 1,000,010
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. (9/01) 930,000 copies
The No Spin Zone by Bill O'Reilly (10/01) 866,000 copies
The Kiss by Danielle Steel. (10/01) 750,000 copies
Jack by Jack Welch (9/01) 724,000 copies
A Heartbreaking Work... by Dave Eggers, paperback, 510,000
Drowning Ruth by C. Schwarz, paperback, 420,000
My Talk Pretty One Day, Sedaris, paperback, 390,000
Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer, 288,000 copies
...Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, paperback, 250,000
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg, paperback, 195,000 in 2001
Bias. A CBS Insider... by Bernard Goldberg, about 170,000 copies
Chicken Soul for the JEWISH Soul by Elkins, 155,000 This compares with other Chicken Soups, like for nurses that sold 260,000, or for Teenagers/Tough which sold 430,000
The Human Stain by Phillip Roth, paperback, 135,000
Walking The Bible by Bruce Feiler, about 110,000 copies
My Grandfather's Blessings by Rachael Remen MD, paperback, 100,000
The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve, paperback, 80,000

[book] HER WORKS PRAISE HER
A History of Jewish Women In America from Colonial Times to the Present
by Hasia Diner and Beryl Lieff Benderly

March 2002. A well documented and thoroughly research book on American Jewish women, beginning with the first Jewish women who arrived in New Amsterdam (New York City) and set about improving the lot of their families, their communities and the country.







[book] LETTERS TO AUNTIE FORI
THE 5000 YEAR HISTORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND THEIR FAITH
by SIR Martin Gilbert

March 19, 2002. Schocken Books. Sir Martin Gilbert (Knighted in 1995) wrote these eloquent letters to a friend, who in her old age, in her nineties, questioned her abandonment of her Jewish faith. His friend nursed him back to health in India in the late 1950's. Auntie Fori was actually the mother of Gilbert's friends Ashok, Anil, and Aditya, and wife to Braj Kumar (BK Bijju) Nehru, a cousin to Jawaharlal Nehru, India's Prime Minister. (BK was later India's Ambassador to the US in Washington, and the Indian High Commissioner in London, a governor of many states in India, and nearly the Sec-General of the UN.) The surprise is that Fori was born in Budapest, Hungary, as Magdolna Bettelheim Hirshfeld Friedmann (Forbath). She met her husband while studying in London at LSE in 1930. Gilbert recounts the triumphs and tragedies of Jewish history, starting with Abraham and monotheism, to today with Jewish Nobelist, Jews in Alaska, and his final letter to Auntie Fori. Click to read more.







[book cover click here] FROM BUCHENWALD TO CARNEGIE HALL
by Narian Filar and Charles Patterson

March 2002. Univ Press of Mississippi. The memoirs of Marian Filar, one of the world's greatest pianists, who was a prodigy with the Warsaw Symphony when he was 12 years old (1929). His parents were murdered at Treblinka. He survived the Warsaw Ghetto, Majdanek and Bergen Belsen, and made it to Carnegie Hall by 1952. Click to read more.







THE SHUL WITHOUT A CLOCK. SECOND THOUGHTS FROM A RABBI'S NOTEBOOK
by Rabbi Emmanuel Feldman

March 2002. Looks at all facets of Jewish life from Phillip Feldheim publishing.







[book] CAMP DE GURS. PASSOVER IN THE MIDST OF PERDITION
by Bella Gutterman and Naomi Morgenstern

March 2002. Relates what befell those deported from Germany to a detention camp in France.







[book cover click here] DOES THE SOUL SURVIVE? A JEWISH JOURNEY TO BELIEF IN AFTERLIFE. PAST LIVES AND LIVING WITH PURPOSE
by Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz

March 2002. Jewish Lights Press. What does Judaism teach about life after life. Click to read more.









[book cover click here] THE JEWISH PROPHET. VISIONARY WORDS FROM MOSES AND MIRIAM TO HENRIETTA SZOLD AND A. J. HESCHEL
edited by Rabbi Michael Shire (Leo Baeck Collge, UK)

March 2002. Jewish Lights Press. Connects the modern prophets to their biblical predecessors. Portrays 30 people who spoke God's words as a calling, becoming spiritual leaders in their time. Inludes Miriam, Moses, Samuel, Hosea, Micah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Yohanan ben Zakkai, Hillel, Akiva, Heschel, Herzl, hannah Werbermacher, Lily Montague, and others. Click to read more.









[book cover click here] B'CHOL L'VAVCHA (WITH ALL YOUR HEART) A Commentary
by Harvey J. Fields

March 2002. UAHC Press. Commentaries, explanations, and versions of the siddur/prayerbook prayers. Click to read more.









[book cover click here] THE ARTSCROLL INTERLINEAR SABBATH AND FESTIVALS SIDDUR
by Rabbi Menachem Davis

March 2002. Mesorah Art Scroll Press. The latest rollout of an interlinear Orthodox prayer book that provides the English translation under each Hebrew word, with arrows to remind your eyes to move to the left from the right as you read the Hebrew and absorb the English. It will change your praying life. Click to read more.









[book cover click here] THE BIBLICAL ENGINEER. HOW THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM WAS BUILT
by Max Schwartz

March 2002. KTAV Press. Buildings fade away, but the religion and laws survive. A compilation of suppositions and digressions. Places the Second Jewish Temple in Jersalem in the context of the period's science, history, politics, and geography. Schwartz was fascinated with how the structure would have been built and not its ornamentation. Click to read more.









PRINCIPLES OF JEWISH ACTIVISM
by Rabbi Avi Weiss

March 2002. KTAV Press. Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale/Bronx NY and Amcha Jewish Concerns writes about the motivation behind demonstrations and protests based on teachings in the Torah. A good addition to your Saul Alinsky books and Albert Vorspan collection. Rabbi Weiss has organized and taken part in hundreds of demonstrations, hunger strikes and acts of non-violent civil disobedience. In addition to his unremitting efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews and his defense of the State of Israel, he has confronted and denounced such anti-Semites as David Duke and Louis Farrakhan. He led the protest against the presence of a Catholic convent at the Auschwitz death camp and excoriated Mayor David Dinkins of New York City for police inaction when Jews were being attacked during the 1991 Crown Heights riots. Of this book, the Canadian Jewish News wrote: Why is activism necessary? How is it best achieved or undertaken? These are some of the basic questions the author deals with in this thoughtful and lively compilation of about 40 brief articles and essays written in recent years for a wide variety of Jewish newspaper and journals across the United States. In the constant battle on behalf of Jewish rights, the author insists that rabbis and religious leaders must adopt a moratorium on antagonism directed at other Jewish groups. To do otherwise would be foolish and self-defeating in the face of unremitting hostility and never-ending problems… Of the many articles Rabbi Weiss submitted to newspapers, only a few were refused publication. One that was suggested that the size of a financial donation ought not to be the sole criterion for Jewish community leadership. He wrote, "It is distressing when every board member of an organization is a high-income earner and is expected to contribute large amounts. Such boards by definition do not represent the people and do not provide a place for other talents that could be of good use. Only a balance of individuals can adequately represent the community and properly assess its needs." Click to read more.









[book cover click here] SEVENTY FACES: ARTICLES OF FAITH: VOLUME 1
by Rabbi Norman Lamm, Yeshiva University

March 2002. KTAV Press. Rabbi Lamm, the retiring Chancellor of Yeshiva University, has compiled this compendium of articles and lectures written and delivered by him over the past fifty years. It shows the evolution of his viewpoints. Click to read more.









SEVENTY FACES: ARTICLES OF FAITH: VOLUME 2
by Rabbi Norman Lamm, Yeshiva University

March 2002. KTAV Press. Rabbi Lamm, the retiring Chancellor of Yeshiva University, has compiled this compendium of articles and lectures written and delivered by him over the past fifty years. It shows the evolution of his viewpoints. Click to read more.









[book cover click here] THE MATZA MAN - A Passover story
By Naomi Howland
For ages 4 to 7. Clarion. March 2002
A Passover story based on the classic story of the Gingerbread man. A baker makes a little man of dough. Everyone prepares for Pesach, but get involved in trying to chase the runaway matzah man. Click to read more.






[book] THE OPEN DOOR. A PASSOVER HAGGADAH (Kol Deekhfeeyn)
By Sue Levi Elwell
CCAR. February 2002. Open your Door and let the hungry in to eat foods both physical and spiritual. the let The Essential Jewish Travel Guide??? Yes. Because this Haggadah transports you to the past and to present and future of Jewish life. Lots of readings, classic and innovative. Miriam’s cup and women’s voices. Gender inclusive language. You can use either the feminine or mascualine form for God. It is accessible to Jews by birth and converts, for non-Jews and non-Jewish guests and relatives. Rabbi Elwell reinserted traditional parts of the Haggadah in to this version. At the point where the prophet Elijah is welcomed into the home, Rabbi Elwell has reinsterted the traditional paragraph of “pour out your fury on the nations that do not know you…” from Lamentations and Psalms. But following this traditional paragraph is a reading from Psalms, Isaiah and Proverbs that states, “Give Up Anger, Abandon Fury, Put Aside Your Wrath; it can only harm… If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat.” 40 pages of music. Ccarpress.org






[book] STUDIES ON THE HAGGADAH: FROM THE TEACHINGS OF NECHAMA LEIBOWITZ
Edited By Yitshak Reiner and Shmuel Peerless
Urim Publications. 159 pages. Urim Publications has scored a hit with this latest Haggadah (I liked their Rabbi Carlebach one last year). Little did I know that the late Ms. Nechama Leibowitz was one of Israel’s most popular and respected teachers of Jewish theology. Two of her students have compiled this classic haggadah based on her Torah study sheets (Gilyonot). The seder is supposed to be a symposium for eating and active learning, so the format of this Haggadah is a winner, because it consists of Ms. Leibowitz’s (1905-1997) probing questions and answers, that will force the seder participants to learn, to draw conclusions independently. For example, for the Magid, or the telling of the story of the exodus, Nachama asks, why does the passage switch from second person singular to second person plural when your read In order that you (singular) may tell your child… that you (plural) may no that I am the Lord.”; or for The Four Children, she questions how the rabbis deduced who was the simple and who was the wise child. When responding to the child “Because of THIS, God did for me when I went out of Egypt…”, Nechama questions what THIS refers to, and asks the reader to compare the commentaries of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Rabbi Marinus. When discussing the sojourn of 400 years, Nechama questions the meaning of the cantillation notes and the placement of the “etnachta” and how it changes the meaning of the passage. She asks you to contemplate why Rashi wrote that the store cities of Ramses and Pitom already existed. You are also asked to compare the strategies of Pharaoh and Haman to those of Gog and Magog. The section on the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart discusses free will, and brings in comments by Sforno and Resh Lakish to help the reader reach a fuller understanding. I recommend one copy for the seder leader or life experiences melamed (not morah), however it is not for the neophyte, since it requires some grounding in Talmud to get the most out of the book.






[book cover click here] ALEPH BET YOGA
By STEVEN A RAPP
March 2002. Jewish Lights Press. Jewish Kavana meets Eastern movements. Hatha yoga meets the Jewish alphabet (aleph bet). And why not? For isn’t it true that yoga in Sanskrit means yoked, and the Aleph in Hebrew is the symbol of yoked (oxen)? Just as you might not get a prayer or kavana the first, second or hundredth time it is recited, you won’t get the position on the first, fifth, or twentieth time. But you try. 38 year old Boston resident, Steven Rap, explains the 29 yoga forms that resemble Hebrew letters (22 letters plus final forms plus the vowels of kamatz and patach). The lamed… wow.. it is the utkatasana position; the yod is associated with pawanmuktasana. He goes on to explain yoga and Jewish spirituality in the context of the letter. By day, Rapp works for the EPA, by night he does Yoga. FLAT LAYING BINDING to help you when doing yoga. For each letter there is a Hebrew verse, a prayer, a Rapp poem, or an English quote upon which to reflect. Includes a bibliography. Click to read more.








[book cover click here] ALL MY MOTHERS AND FATHERS: A MEMOIR
by Michael Blumenthal

March 2002. HarperCollins. Writer and poet, Blumenthal's memoir of rage and anger about a dual life (2 sets of parents, 2 wives, 2 siblings, 2 homes), and the desire for a mother's love. At 10, after the death of his mother, he learns that he was adopted. His adoptive parents were actually his aunt and uncle, Holocaust survivors in Manhattan. His birth parents were NJ chicken farmers. CLICK to read more about this book







[book cover click here] CONSENT
A novel by Ben Shrank

March 2002. Random House. Mike Zabusky meets Katherine Staresina at a party given by Mike's doctoral thesis adviser Matthew Weingarden. They are instantly drawn to each other-so instantly that they have a sexual collision up against the party-premises' bathroom wall less than two hours after they meet. Mike immediately feels surer of his love for Katherine than of anything else in his life-his moribund thesis about the Golem (an artifical creature out of Jewish folklore); Weingarden, who appears to simultaneously support and undermine Mike's studies; and his lonely, angry stock-trading father, soon to commit suicide and thus further tangle the emotional knot, first tied in childhood, that Mike must try to untie. So when Katherine begins a mystifying game of intimacy and rejection, and as Mike learns more about her troubled past, and as he seems to lose more ground with every effort to win her heart, he finally comes face to face with his own Golem-like existence. Who is controlling him? What can he do to escape-and determine-his own fate? What is the truth behind his father's death? Consent paints a poignant, surprising, and ultimately profound portrait of a young man who faces the universal challenge of balancing passion with wisdom. Click to read more.







[book] A FISTFUL OF LENTILS. SYRIAN-JEWISH RECIPES FROM GRANDMA FRITZIE'S KITCHEN
by Jennifer Felicia Abadi

March 2002. Jennifer Abadi offers the reader the KOSHER recipes of her Sephardic Syrian Jewish grandmother, Fritzie. THIS BOOK CONTAINS well guarded secrets of Jewish cooking. Dishes include grilled cheese with mint syrian style, eggs with rhubarb, spinach-mint soup, pistachio cookies made without flour, orange chicken with figs and raisins, stuffed squash with lemon-mint sauce, and for Rosh Hashana a lamb dish with olives and lemons. Click to read more.







[book] THE MENSCH CHEF
OR WHY DELICIOUS JEWISH FOOD ISN'T AN OXYMORON
by Mitchell Davis

March 2002. New tvists zu der Jewish Ashkanzi cooking, prepared with good wit and humor, coded with pareve, dairy, meat and Passover/Pesadich indicators. If the dish is not kosher, Davis mentions it and discusses how to make it kosher. Sweet and Sour Fish, Kugel with apples and oranges, etc. Don't get fooled by the names. The pareve rugelach is prepared with chicken fat instead of butter so that it can eaten with meat, but it isn't pareve, it is thus meat. Click to read more.







[book] ARAFAT'S ELEPHANT - STORIES
by JONATHAN TELL

March 2002. A debut collection by Tell, a particle physicist and would-be novelist. Set in and around Jerusalem, now, in the past, and in the future, this remarkable collection introduces us to a wide range of complex characters: some extraordinary in their ordinariness; others lifted form the pages of history; still others with lives given significance simply because of where they are or who they're with at a single moment in time. We meet a young religious Jewish woman who loses herself in thought and wanders off en route to her arranged marriage, a would-be Islamic terrorist who offers assistance to American vacationers, an Internet millionaire doing his military service, a torturer who writes children's books, and elderly couple rediscovering their love in a coffee factory ,and Moshe Dayan while he's having a glass eye fitted. A collection of short stories on life in the middle east. In "Spleen, or the Goy's Tale", a rabbi meets Arafat's cook. "Love and Coffee" is a tale of the intersection of war and romance, a couple, and a coffee factory with amorous leaflets. In "A Story About a Bomb" opens with a terrorist bomber being asked by a couple of tourists to take their picture.





[book] Climbing Jacob's Ladder : One Man's Journey to Rediscover a Jewish Tradition
by Alan Morinis

March 12 2002. Morinis, born in T.O. Canada, earned a PhD in Anthropology at Oxford after receiving a Rhodes Scholarship. After many years of teaching and making films, he fell into a depression. He studied and practiced Eastern religions. His dissertation focused on Hindu pilgrimage. In search of further enlightenment he practiced Yoga in India and sought out the Dalai Lama for serious study. Many of his friends shaved their heads and took swami names. But after a series of business failures and nagging ethical concerns, he turned to his Jewish roots. Specifically he studied Musar Mussar (practical applications of Jewish ethics and mores) and its parables. The Mussar movement was founded in the mid-19th century by a Lithuanian rabbi named Israel Salanter. It is both a call to ethical behaviour as well as a program of personal introspective and transformative practices that lead, step by step, along the path of purification and change. Rabbi Salanter was a powerful and courageous personality. Once, during a cholera epidemic in Kovno, he insisted that the community synagogue be temporarily used as a hospital and a place for the poor and needy. Some objected. During a sermon he pointed at the president of the congregation and cried out, "You'll live to answer to the Lord for the suffering of the poor." On another occasion, because of the severity of the cholera epidemic, he become convinced, on the advice of physicians, to dispense with fasting on Yom Kippur. When other rabbis were reluctant to follow his lead, he solemnly produced wine and cake in the synagogue and ate and drank. Louis Ginsberg has written, "One can hardly imagine what moral courage that action required for a man whose obedience to the Torah was his highest duty." After diligent search, Morinis found a wise and understanding Mussar teacher, the head of a yeshiva, with whom he studied, on and off, for three years. Climbing Jacob's Ladder is the story of the author's journey into the heart of Mussar philosophy. He attempts to distil its lessons in 10 chapters, each followed by a simple exercise to help the reader explore its teachings in daily life. For three years, the author commuted between Vancouver and Far Rockaway, Queens, NY. This is the story of his journey and its impact on his life, his two daughters, and his physician wife. Clearly written and thought provoking, this book is both an engaging memoir and an introduction to the little-known heritage of Mussar, which teaches that by changing one's self, one can change the world. Click to read more.







PATHWAYS THROUGH THE BIBLE
CLASSIC SELECTIONS FROM THE TANAKH
by Mortimer J. Cohen, and updated by David S. E. Stein

March 2002. Jewish Publication Society JPS. The updated third edition of the classic book that has sold of 250,000 copies.







[book] PREPARING YOUR HEART FOR PASSOVER
By Rabbi Kerry Olitzky
JPS. March 2002. Before you get out the haggadot, prepare your heart for Passover. Before you clean your house of crumbs, cleanse your heart. Rid yourself of spiritual hametz. A guidebook to helping you transform yourself for Passover, during Passover, and in the period between Passover and Shavuot.






[book] ABOU AND THE ANGEL COHEN
by CLAUDE CAMPBELL

March 2002. Wise cracking angel named Cohen meets up with Abou Ben Adhem, a retired goat shepherd and former cab driver, residing in Gaza in 2001, with problems with Hamas, as well as problems with his daughter and son in law Yasser, a wife beater. The novel explores the world's inability to rid itself of archaic ways. Chapters alternate between the daytime life of Abou an his evening conversations with a rumpled un-angelic angel





[book] DREAMLAND
Europeans and Jews in the Aftermath of the Great War
by Howard M. Sachar (George Washington University)

March 2002. Knopf. Jewish life in Europe between the World Wars. A time of great hope and upheaval. Sachar uses the stories of famous personalities to progress the story, including Freud, Arnold Schoenberg, Bela Kun, Proust, Walter Rathenau, and Rosa Luxemburg. .






APRIL 2002 BOOKS

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