Arsonist hits UD Jewish center

Firefighters battle a blaze at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life on South College Avenue on Aug. 25. On Oct. 30, the Chabad Center in Wilmington was also the victim of an arson.

Two months after the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Newark was destroyed by arson, a second Chabad Center in Delaware has been damaged by an intentionally set fire.

The latest incident came around 12:30 a.m. Oct. 30 at the Chabad Center on Silverside Road in Wilmington, according to Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael G. Chionchio. Someone set a fire outside the building, but it was extinguished before flames could extend into the structure.

The damage was estimated at only $200.

Chionchio did not publicly release any information directly tying the incident to the arson in Newark, but he did note in a press release that it is the second time in two months a Chabad Center in Delaware has been the victim of arson.

The two centers are run by the same organization, and the rabbi at the Wilmington location is the father of the rabbi at the Newark location.

The Aug. 25 fire at the Chabad Center in Newark gutted the small blue house on South College Avenue that for years has been a gathering space for Jewish students at the University of Delaware. The rabbi there said the house will have to be torn down and rebuilt, and the community donated more than $500,000 toward the effort.

The Newark fire prompted fears that someone was specifically targeting the Jewish community, though the fire marshal’s office, UD, the ATF and the rabbi himself have all stressed that there is no evidence the incident was a hate crime. At the time, Chionchio said his office was investigating whether the fire was related to several smaller arsons that occurred around Newark.

So far, no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information about either arson is asked to call the fire marshal’s office at 302-323-5375 or Fire.Marshal@delaware.gov or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333.

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