A team of 14 students and staff from Hillel of Silicon Valley slogged through mud, climbed 12-foot walls and endured 10,000 volts of electric current — among other trials — all in the name of teamwork, trust building and conquering fears. They did it through Tough Mudder, an all-day, 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie, according to the website. “We were all bruised and limping afterward … if that doesn’t build camaraderie, what does?,” writes Jessica Trousdale. Elliot Fine, who initiated and led the team with Justin Rothenberg, said there were two other reasons for recruiting a group for the challenge: to “diversify the exterior perception of Hillel,” which isn’t known for its sports activities, and “to break the untrue stigma that Jews are not athletic or tough.” The event, adds Rothenberg, helped to “bring more attention to one of the most amazing organizations I have ever been a part of.”
Training took place from May until the Sept. 30 challenge in Stanislaus County. During that time, participants ate well and took care of their bodies and health, which is in keeping with Jewish law, notes Vanina Sandel, assistant director of SV Hillel. Other Tough Mudders are Johanna Wilder, Eric Medeiros, Leonard Druker, Adi Hod, Talia Klein, Katy Minks, Dana Margittai, Batia Pinsker, Neusha Zarrabian, Aaron Mednick and Lloyd Walker.