If Shabbat is all about taking a divinely commanded breather from the work-a-day routine to celebrate God’s rest following creation, then surely this past Shabbat was nearly as good as it gets for me and a few of my friends.

We had longstanding plans for a visit to Coney Island (a first for all of us) and so, at the appointed hour, we assembled on a specific corner in midtown’s Herald Square, descended into the subway and boarded a train bound for the southernmost tip of Brooklyn. At the end of the line, we emerged from the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue station to late summer sunshine, perfect boardwalk-strolling temperatures, a gentle breeze and the salty sea air–a magnificent day that only God could create.

Hungry from our journey, our first stop was the original Nathan’s for hot dogs and fries. So smothered in sautéed onions and sauerkraut that they were barely visible in the buns, our dogs were grilled to perfection, and worthy of a photo. Indeed, before we ate, we snapped pictures of our fare – a motzi and a Shehecheyanu all rolled up into one digital image of gratitude for both the mouth-watering food and the opportunity to enjoy it together in this famous place.

Our hunger satisfied, we continued with a leisurely jaunt through the Astroland Amusement Park, where only one of us was brave enough to ride the Cyclone, but all of us were more than willing to watch other visitors take on such attractions as the Break Dancer, the Tea Cups and the gravity-defying, stomach-churning Top Spin.

A stroll on the boardwalk led us to the pier, where, enveloped on all sides by churning green water, salty sea spray, brilliant sunshine and a refreshing breeze, A Coney Island Shabbat we – individually and collectively – basked in the beauty of the day, savoring our surroundings and the many blessings in our lives.

As we headed back to the subway, a kosher hot dog vending machine caught our eye. Because it was Shabbat, though, the machine’s electronic display pad indicated that it was “Temporarily out of service.” Its service status mattered not at all to us, however; we continued to joyously celebrate Shabbat and, in our own way, to make it holy.

Originally posted on August 28, 2008