Arsonist Torches Jewish Center at University of Delaware

August 27, 2020

A fire that broke out at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware has been ruled an arson by state fire officials, the Times of Israel reported.

A local newspaper, the Newark Post, quoted Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael G. Chionchio as saying, “A criminal arson investigation is underway, with investigators following up on leads.”

Aetna Fire Company / Dave Wilson

The fire broke out at 11 p.m. on Tuesday night. It took about forty minutes to bring the fire under control as 45 firefighters worked to put out the blaze. No one was inside the Jewish center when the fire began.

The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office said in a statement to WDEL radio that the initial estimated damage caused by the fire stood at around $75,000. Individuals associated with the Chabad center said the final damage estimate will likely be higher.

Students are scheduled to return to classes at the University of Delaware next week. Students affiliated with the Chabad center launched a GoFundMe page to help rebuild the center after the fire. At the time of this article, more than $37,000 towards the $40,000 goal had been raised on the student-run GoFundMe page.

On the GoFundMe page, students stated, “The fire was set at the back of the house, but the damages spread throughout the entire property. Although they tried to salvage what survived, there is not much left.”

In their call to action to help support the Jewish center, students described the importance of the center to their experience at the university. The page says, “Chabad at UD is a home away from home for many Jewish students at the University of Delaware. Each week they open their doors, for Shabbat dinners and other programs such as holidays, celebrations, and learning opportunities. All of this wouldn’t be possible without Rabbi Avremel and Shulie. Rabbi, Shulie, and their three children have created a family at UD and have devoted their lives to bettering the Jewish community on campus.”

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