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Siegel JCC on 'alert' after Tree of Life shooting, suspicious package deemed safe

Courtesy of the Siegel JCC

A week and half after the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, New Castle County police responded to a report of a suspicious package at the Siegel JCC in North Wilmington.

New Castle County police deemed the package safe and non-hazardous Wednesday morning— after the Siegel JCC had been evacuated.

A spokesperson for the state Fire Marshall confirmed Thursday the package was “completely innocent.”

Executive Director of the Siegel JCC Ivy Harlev says staff are trained to be cautious.

“Because of the bomb threats last year, and the Pittsburgh [shooting], we’re definitely on alert,” she said. “It’s just a fact that antisemitism has gone up and continues to go up.”

The Philadelphia branch of the Anti-Defamation League reported a four-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Delaware last year over the previous year.

These included five bomb threats targeting the Siegel JCC between January and March of 2017.  

“Yes there is more anti-Semitism, and yes people feel it, even when it’s not Pittsburgh or a suspicious package,” said Harlev. “But I think there’s so much love and respect in the world that people are focusing on that as well.”

Harlev says the day after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, members of the Siegel JCC participated in an interfaith community support gathering at the University of Delaware.


She thinks that increasing education around difference will help reduce hate-based incidents.

“Raising our kids to be respectful of each other and of people’s differences," she said. "And then interacting with people from different groups, cultures, areas, so they have different experiences.”


Harlev says she is heartened by the respect and support she continues to witness between Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Delaware.



Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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