Falling Tree Kills Counselor From New York at Jewish Summer Camp

Annais Rittenberg Dies in Freak Accident at Camp Tawonga

Deadly Day: Annais Rittenberg, a camp couselor from New York, died when a tree fell through a dining hall at a summer camp in northern California.
facebook
Deadly Day: Annais Rittenberg, a camp couselor from New York, died when a tree fell through a dining hall at a summer camp in northern California.

By Anne Cohen

Published July 03, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A Jewish summer camp counselor from New York was killed and several others injured when a 70-foot tall black oak tree fell outside a dining hall at the camp near Yosemite National Park in northern California.

Annais Rittenberg, 21, a “beloved member of the Camp Tawonga staff,” was killed and four others injured when the massive tree toppled on the camp grounds, Camp Tawonga officials said in a letter to parents.

“I’ve lost a beautiful child through that tree,” Rittenberg’s mother, Penny Kreitzer, told the Los Angeles Times. “I wish the tree had fallen on Saturday when no one was there.”

Annais Rittenberg
Annais Rittenberg

Rittenberg attended the University of California at Santa Cruz where she was to be a senior this year, according to the campus spokesperson, NBC reported.

On her Facebook page, Rittenberg listed that she was originally from New York and had attended the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

She was returning for her second straight summer as an arts counselor at Camp Tawonga, which combined her loves for photography and nature.

“This was a child who was so vibrant,” Kreitzer told the Times. “I can’t even tell you.”

A Cal Fire spokesman, Daniel Berlant, posted on Twitter that emergency crews were responding to a “mass casualty” event on Wednesday at Camp Tawonga, with 20 reported injuries, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Authorities said there was little anyone could have done to prevent the tragedy.

“There was nothing to indicate there was anything wrong with this tree,” Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Oliver told the San Jose Mercury-News. “Even to look at the existing tree trunk, there is still nothing wrong. Basically, it was a freak accident, as (far as) we can tell.”

Gregg Rubenstein, director of finance for the camp, told The Associated Press that the staff was still assessing the situation but no campers were among the injured.

That point was underscored in the email to parents with the subject in all capital letters: “EVERY CHILD AT CAMP IS FINE,” the Los Angeles Times reported.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.