Holocaust survivor and author, Dirk Van Leenen will share his family’s harrowing story of survival and courage in the face of evil of the Holocaust, an especially important story to share based on today’s environment.

Mr. Van Leenen was born in Holland after the start of WWII to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father. Dirk’s father was responsible for saving thousands of Jewish people from the Nazis. The Nazis eventually found out that Dirk’s father was helping Jews and arrested him. Dirk’s family was put on a train for a four-day trip to Bergen-Belsen, with no food, water, or toilets. Many people died on the way. The camp was liberated the day after Dirk arrived there. However, his aunts, uncles, and all but two of his cousins had died in the camps. The only two who survived had figured out a way to escape from the train taking them to the camp.

After sharing stories about his experiences in Holland during World War II for several years, Dirk’s children and grandchildren urged him to write a book about those difficult times. Dirk has written three books about his and his family’s experiences and often speaks about the Holocaust. His books (“Resistance on a Bicycle,” “The Americans are Coming” and “The Last Train to the Concentration Camp”) will be available for sale at the event.

This evening, the Phoenix Holocaust Association will be sponsoring delicious sufganiyot (traditional Chanukah jelly doughnuts) to complement the free hot coffee and hot chocolate that is served all eight nights during Chanukah in Carefree.

For the 7th year, Chanukah in Carefree will host its nightly holiday celebration on December 7 to 14, for 8 nights, in the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion, Carefree AZ. The programs will begin at 5:30 pm each night, starting on December 7th.

This eight-night cultural community celebration of the festival of lights also serves the community by raising money for a neighboring organization which is referred to as our Spirit of Giving recipient. This year’s Spirit of Giving recipient is the Cave Creek Unified Education Foundation (CCUEF).

Each night of Chanukah is sponsored by a different organization creating a fun and meaningful celebration for the community and is generously supported by the Center for Jewish Philanthropy, Kiwanis, APS, Spirit in the Desert and Temple Chai.

See ChanukahinCarefree.com for more information on the event, our sponsors and contributors, live streaming links and the complete schedule.

This is an outdoor event, free to attend and open to attendees of all denominations and faiths. Enhanced security measures will be in place.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photos by Phoenix Holocaust Association

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