26.8 inches. That was the final snowfall total in New York City this past weekend. It was an amazing, shocking, beautiful thing to behold – the city shut down, no cars, no subways, no busses, and only a smattering of people in the streets on Saturday.

Very cool. Not so cool? Our NYC Livnot Alumot Tu B’Shvat celebration was scheduled to happen the day after the storm, Sunday evening! With the subways running, well at best ‘walking’ at a delayed or non existent speed, we knew we would lose the attendance of some of our beloved Livnoters to the storm. The LIRR wasn’t running Sunday, and the Metro North was hurtin’.

Should we do it? Should we cancel? Stress ensued. Mariah Kitner, our brave and dedicated Alumot coordinator, made the decision to keep it going!

Alumot NYC Tu B'Shvat seder

(from left) Mariah Kitner, Sam Boltax, and Eva Reichenberg

I myself was feeling slightly panicked – I was stuck in South Brooklyn since the above-ground Q train (sorry for all the NYC transportation references) was not running and/or still being dug out. But my panic was quickly thwarted by a call with our one and only Dovid Neiburg, who I was informed was driving into Manhattan from the very place I was stuck in, South Brooklyn! Thank you Hashem! (And Dovid Neiburg).

I popped over to the Neiburgs, and we piled in the car. (Myself, Dovid, Adam Gottlieb (another special Livnot alum), and 3 of Adam’s lovely children! We drove over to the Upper West Side, excited and pumped about our Tu B’shvat Seder!

The Seder went off without a hitch. Thanks to Mariah, Michelle, Adam Gottlieb’s children, and all who helped with the setup. Especially Chani Gottleib, age 9, who delicately folded each napkin into the plastic cups with a careful and delicate flair :)

We used our Livnot Tu B’Shvat guide to sing, dance, and learn.

We talked about trees, nature, pomegranates, olives, grapes, dates, and more.

One of our favorite parts was splitting into groups, with each group in charge of learning about a fruit and how it related to Tu B’Shvat. We each made up skits, and they were truly unforgettable! One thing we took out of it was the importance of togetherness, while simultaneously highlighting the beauty in individuality. For example, the date palm is a fruit that has many different parts to it. Each of those parts are different, but together they make a delicious date fruit. Just like our lovely Livnot group!

Alumot NYC Tu B'Shvat sederThank you to everyone that came out and braved the storm. And to those who couldn’t make it, we missed you and we will see you at the next event! We also have been loving seeing Tu B’Shvat pictures from Livnoters all around the world!

At the end of the night, we were so happy to celebrate the New Year of Trees together, on the weekend of very snowy trees. :)

-Sam Boltax