Thursday, May 31, 2007

There are eight (8) more seats available on the tour bus! All aboard!

Native Cultures and Plants of the Southwest Tour; Sunday, June 17, 2007

7:00AM Pick up from Hilton

7:30AM Arrive at Desert Botanical Garden

10:00AM Arrive at Heard Museum

12:30 PM Arrive at King Solomon's Pizza for a kosher lunch

1:30PM Return to Hilton

For your attention, Board and Council members (or anybody wishing to take the shorter tour),
the bus will go in between the hotel and tour and drop you off just in time for either the 9:00AM or 12:00PM meetings. You will only pay for the activities you participate in.

Fees (paid on site)

For the full tour, inclusive of admissions, guided tours, lunch, and transportation: $31.

For those leaving at 8:40: $12 for the Desert Botanical Garden portion.

For those leaving at 11:40: $21 for both tours (DBG and Heard Museum) and docent flat rate, excluding lunch.

The tour transportation is sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program at Arizona State University.

Please contact me directly, at

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Authors Galore!

The AJL Convention will be here before we know it. This year we have an amazing array of authors in addition to sessions by scholars, librarians, and researchers. An earlier post on this blog offered links to authors appearing at the convention who are Sydney Taylor Book Award gold and silver medalists. However, we'll have many other authors joining us in Scottsdale as well. Check out their web sites now, and come to their sessions later!

Ellen Dreyer

Shefa Gold

Jonathan Kirsch

Diane Rauchwerger

Harriet Rochlin

Diane Romm

Lois Ruby

Steve Sheinkin

Pari Taichert

Edith Tarbescu

Sherry York

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Listen In! Phonecasting the Convention

Take a look at the new Listen In section in our sidebar: you will see a small red-and-grey audio player from Gcast.

By clicking the play button, you will be able to hear audio reports from the convention! That's right, we are phonecasting! (i.e. podcasting by phone) We'll be calling in reports from the convention, and hopefully interviewing attendees and guest speakers too.

We probably won't be able to use this service to record convention sessions because a cell phone won't pick up voices that aren't speaking directly into the phone. However, if there are particular aspects of the convention or speakers you want to hear about, post a comment to this blog and we'll see what we can do.

For now, there is just one phonecast on there: a welcome message recorded today, labeled "May 16, 2007 Phone call." Check back closer to the convention for new recordings. You can also subscribe to the phonecast and have it delivered to you by email (see the Subscribe Free link below the player) or even add the player to your own web page or blog (see the Add to my Page link).

Happy listening!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Last call for tour participants

Hi AJLers,

This is the last call for those interested in taking the guided tour, Native Cultures of the Southwest (Sunday, June 17th, 7:30AM-1:00PM; with option for earlier leaving, at 9:00 and at noon).

What's in the tour?

* A tour in the Desert Botanical Garden, "rated #1 for all Phoenix things to do" in Yahoo Travel ( This botanical garden specializes in cacti and succulents, with some 20,000 specimens, including some from the geographic area of Erets-Israel (for those of us who miss hatsavim in the fall, this is the place to find them!). The gift shop offers small cacti in well-packed boxes to take home with you, and decorative objects made of saguaro ribs. Start practicing the word Saguaro... (pronounce: sa-wa-ro).

* A tour in the Heard Museum, which according to Frommer's, "should be your very first stop" in Arizona when it comes to learning about its native cultures ( The Heard Museum is located in a beautiful building, and its educational exhibits are impressing. The gift shop is well-known for quality, though pricey, selections.

* A pizza and salads lunch at the kosher King Solomon's Pizza (

Both the tours are guided, but there will be free time for you to wander around and explore for yourselves.

Please contact by May 18th (Friday next week) to register. A few more seats are available.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Convention Wiki

Did you know that the AJL 2007 Convention has its own wiki? A wiki is a website that allows any visitor to add, remove, edit and change content.

The idea behind AJL's Convention wiki is that presenters can easily add information about their sessions, and even provide links to handouts or resources that they want attendees to know about. All presenters, convention organizers, and attendees are welcome to add their content to the wiki.

You can find the wiki at

Monday, May 7, 2007

Meet the Award-Winning Authors!

Ten award-winning authors and illustrators who create books for children and teens will appear at AJL's 42nd Annual Convention. All ten received recognition this year from AJL's Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, which awards the best in Jewish children's literature. The convention usually brings in only three or four such author/illustrators, making 2007 a bonanza year for lovers of Judaic literature for young people.

2007 is the first year AJL presented a book award for teen readers, and convention organizers are particularly pleased to welcome Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, the Teen Book Award Winner. Zusak will travel all the way from his home in Australia to receive the award. Other award-winning authors and illustrators who will be present include:

  • Author Stephen Krensky and illustrator Greg Harlin, creators of the picture book Hanukkah at Valley Forge, the Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers

  • Brenda Ferber, author of the novel Julia's Kitchen, the Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers

  • Ann Redisch Stampler, author of the picture book Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost, a Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner for Younger Readers

  • Brynn Olenberg Sugarman, author of the picture book Rebecca's Journey Home, a Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner for Younger Readers - who will travel all the way from Israel for this event

  • Esme Raji Codell, author of the novel Vive La Paris, a Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner for Older Readers

  • Jennifer Roy, author of the novel Yellow Star, a Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner for Older Readers

  • Linda Press Wulf, author of the novel Night of the Burning: Devorah's Story, a Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner for Older Readers

  • Dana Reinhardt, author of the teen novel A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, an AJL Honor Award Winner for Teens (this award will take on the Sydney Taylor name beginning in 2008)

All ten authors/illustrators will be presenting sessions during the convention on either Monday, June 18 or Tuesday, June 19. A reception and book signing will take place on Tuesday, June 19 followed by the evening awards banquet.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Sneak Preview

Hi, everybody! I'm looking forward to seeing you all at the AJL convention, and I want to thank Sheryl for setting up this convention blog.

As you may know, our keynote speaker will be Jonathan Kirsch. He's the author of really interesting analyses of the Bible, including:
  • The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible
  • Moses: a Life
  • King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel
  • The Woman Who Laughed at God: The Untold History of the Jewish People
  • God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism
  • A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization

His keynote address will be called "Animal Skins and God's Bones: How the Making and Keeping of Books Has Enriched the World and Ensured the Survival of the Jewish People." You can hear a sneak preview of this keynote in an interview with Jonathan Kirsch on The Book of Life podcast. And of course, you should also take a look at his website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What to see/do/eat in Phoenix & Scottsdale

Here's where you can chime in. What are your favorite places to go (keeping the heat in mind)... places to eat? things to do? .. and of course, your favorite quilt or fabric stores? I remember that they have a great zoo.

AJL has an area guide and a shopping guide on the convention page.

I'm sure you'll be hearing this a lot - but plan to drink lots of water!


Hi, I am Sheryl Stahl and once again, I will be hosting/coordinating the AJL convention blog. With the help of Heidi Estrin,I'm planning on posting notes about sessions, speakers, shopping, eating, touring, networking, and any other convention related things that comes to mind.

We hope this will give a 'taste of the convention' to those who couldn't be here and to start conversations with those who could! Feel free to add comments to any post. I would love to get other perspectives on the same sessions or to hear about sessions that I couldn't attend.

If you haven't registered yet, go to the AJL convention page for the forms.