The History of Chanukah in Carefree

In the summer of 2017, when the Town of Carefree was planning their festivities for the December Holidays, a new Town Council member (at the time – and now Vice Mayor) Cheryl Kroyer, met with Alison Ballai, owner of the local retail store “Bosco’s Biscuits”. From their discussion, the idea was born to promote a cultural community event recognizing the holiday of Chanukah for the first time in the Town of Carefree. Alison recommended that the town call Karen Acker, who she felt would be able to help them organize this event. Vicki Zimmerman, the town’s Marketing Assistant at the time, called Karen in July, and without hesitation Karen jumped at the opportunity.

While still in New York for the summer, Karen, who is a member of Temple Chai, started to put the plan together and contacted the Temple Chai Cantor Ross Wollman, who provided Karen with sources to secure the 6 ½ foot tall menorah. Temple Chai donated the menorah, and every year, the Cantor leads one of the evening programs along with his accompanist, and the Temple Chai choir (which includes Karen). Each year, all eight nights are led by a different local organization which has also included, among many others, Phoenix Holocaust Association, Valley of the Sun JCC, Desert Foothills Jewish Community Association, Congregation Kehillah and the Jewish Social Group of Cave Creek and Carefree.

We began a program called “Spirit of Giving”, and each year help raise money for a local charity. Our selected charity for 2023 is the Cave Creek Unified Education Foundation. On Shabbat this year, we have chosen Purse Impressions as our Tzedakah recipient. We have also partnered with the Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center who handle all the financial management for Chanukah in Carefree at no cost, for which we are grateful, and we encourage the community to support and recognize this wonderful retreat center. Many local establishments and organizations also support and donate to this festive and cultural event and the community continues to come together in deep spirit and generosity to celebrate all eight nights of Chanukah in the amazing town of Carefree. Please check out our Contributor’s section on this website and consider supporting some of these wonderful groups.

Our group of dedicated volunteers has expanded because of our success. Please fill out the contact form on this website or speak to any of our volunteers if you want to be involved with a program or to help with this event.

Karen Acker, Chair & Leader of Chanukah in Carefree
Julie Friedman, Volunteer
Shelley Friedman, Co-Chair Event Set-up
Janice Greenberg, Chair Media
Sheryl Greenspan, Chair Donations
Renee Karson, Chair Communications
Leslie Krat, Co-Chair, Event Set-up
Pam Menton, Spirit of Giving Coordinator
Daryl Perlman, Chair Children’s Gift Bags
Ellen Sanders, Volunteer
Dayna Schlang, Volunteer

Town of Carefree
We want to thank the Town of Carefree for their boundless support and generosity to ensure the success of Chanukah in Carefree.  Since the start of this event in 2017, the leadership and staff of the Town of Carefree have provided guidance, resources, publicity, and have even volunteered their personal time to help make the nightly event successful.  We are grateful to be able to hold this annual holiday celebration in the beautiful Sanderson Lincoln Pavillion, a perfect spot for the community to gather.  We love where we live and are excited to continue this holiday celebration for years to come!  For more information on the history of Carefree, shopping, and top attractions in the area, please visit