During the final week of her ordeal, she took part in an 18-kilometer (11 miles) march that began at 4 a.m.
And she loved the experience.
"It was the most challenging two months of my life," says Greenhut about Marva, a Jewish Agency for Israel program that gives Diaspora youngsters an experience similar to the basic training in the Israel Defense Forces that Israeli teenagers undergo.
Greenhut, whose family belongs to B'nai Shalom of Olney, took part in a graduation ceremony at Latrun, the site of a bloody battle during the Israeli War of Independence.
"I'll never forget that day," says the teen, who is entering the University of Maryland as a freshman. "You feel so proud in your uniform and can't believe what you completed.
"Marva teaches you can do anything after you have been pushed so hard physically and mentally."
Greenhut was in the Jewish state taking part in the Young Judaea Year Course, during which she spent nine months working in a kindergarten and teaching English to young people while living in the Hatikvah neighborhood in Tel Aviv, studying Hebrew in ulpan and taking courses through the University of Judaism, while living in Jerusalem ‹ in addition to the basic training.
Sybil Ottenstein of Potomac also took part in the program; like Greenhut, helping to teach English and care for kindergartners in Tel Aviv and studying in Jerusalem. But instead of the Marva program, she worked with 4- and 5-year-olds in a community center and school in Petah Tikvah.
Ottenstein, whose family belongs to B'nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, says the best part of her experience was "being immersed in Israeli society."
"I improved my Hebrew, learned how to bargain in stores, and generally felt at home after a period of time," says the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School graduate.
She felt so at home that after a year of study at Northwestern University, she plans to return to the Jewish state to study counterterrorism and diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya.
The two teens also were part of Masa (journey), an umbrella-like Jewish Agency for Israel program that provides scholarships and enrichment activities for kids on yearlong programs in Israel, says Elan Ezrachi, the head of the organization, in an e-mail interview.
There were 7,000 Jewish youngsters (average age was 22) taking part in the 2-year-old Masa program in 2005-2006 from the U.S., Russia, Australia, Europe, South America, Canada and India.
Each participant contributed 20-60 hours of community service in 400 different fields.
Other local participants in the Masa program were Ryan Butler of Silver Spring, Anat Penini of Potomac, Joel Schwartz of Rockville and Gabriel Weisel of Potomac. ‹ Aaron Leibel
Copyright 2006, Washington Jewish Week