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.
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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.
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The camp houses up to 300 children and 160 staff members, though it’s unclear how many were on the 160-acre grounds.

Campers were inside the dining hall when the tree fell, Jennifer Rosenberg, whose daughter is an employee at the camp, told the Times.

Before the Tragedy: Campers hold a dance party at Camp Tawonga in the hours before the freak accident that killed a counselor.
courtesy of camp tawonga
Before the Tragedy: Campers hold a dance party at Camp Tawonga in the hours before the freak accident that killed a counselor.

“She said it sounded like an earthquake, and then a big dust cloud,” Rosenberg said.

A press release posted to Facebook and emailed to parents identified the victim as Rittenberg.

Four other adult staffers — Lizzie Moore, Cara Sheedy, Juliet Ulibarri, and Anya Schultz — have been rushed to the hospital, and their families notified.

In the minutes following the incident, parents flocked to the camp’s Facebook page to post frantic requests for updates, angry that no email had yet been sent out.

“Please tell my daughter […] to call home so I know she is okay,” one mother wrote.

“So worried about my child and everyone up at camp,” another parent posted. “Please give us an update.”

The camp’s press released confirmed that no campers had been injured, and that counseling services would be provided.

“The campers are doing well and are participating in camp activities away from the scene,” the statement read. “Our on-site staff therapists are working closely with First Responder grief experts to help care for our community in this difficult time.”

Founded in 1925, Camp Tawonga is located near Yosemite National Park and headquartered in San Francisco. Set in the spectacular High Sierras, it is known as one of the oldest and best-established Jewish camps in California.

At Santa Cruz, Rittenberg was involved in the student-run radio station KZSC.

An adventurous type who had traveled widely, she earned a following for her love of world music, Michael Bryant, KZSC’s director, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

“She had a passion for a wide variety of music,” Bryant told the paper. “She had an ability to share that with other students. She was able to enlighten a lot of her peers.”


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