Menorah Vandalized in City Park After Lighting Ceremony to Mark Start of Hanukkah

Police say they are investigating the vandalism of a menorah that was found in pieces, half of it missing, in an Upper East Side park hours after it was lit during an annual holiday ceremony hundreds attended to mark the first night of Hanukkah.

Rabbi Elie Weinstock was among the first to discover the menorah knocked over in Carl Schurz Park at 86th Street and East End Avenue, just two blocks from Gracie Mansion. He attended the lighting ceremony Sunday evening -- a celebration that has been held annually for the last eight years.

Weinstock said the vandalism was a shock, but noted the menorah still had power; some lights glowed despite the vandalism, which he said was symbolic.

"It's a hit in the gut. It takes awhile for it to process," Weinstock said. "Last night we gathered to kindle the menorah, bringing light to the world and this morning we found that we were met by an act of darkness. But light always overcomes darkness."

The rabbi, an associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on East 85th Street, said he planned to have local congregants gather to relight the menorah Monday.

"No matter who you are, whether you're Jewish or not, this is offensive to anbody," said Olivia Harris, who lives in East New York. 

Detectives were at the park canvassing the scene throughout the day. The menorah had been standing in a section of the park along the water, and it did not appear there were security cameras nearby.   

The mayor's office confirmed the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating. 

"Incidents like this have no place here or anywhere," Mayor de Blasio said. 

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