In the center of Jerusalem there is a wilderness. This summer my friend and I headed down the trail for a short hike. We walked towards the watering hole through parched grass, stone ruins, in the middle of the dry intense heat. Beneath the small pond, where a few people were swimming off the heat and dust, we picniced under an almond tree on the browned but blossoming earth. On our way back up the trail we met two Israeli teenage boys who approached us cautiously, one of them asking in soft rapid Hebrew, "Are there girls swimming in the pool at the bottom of the path?" My friend replied, "Yes, there are girls there." The boys looked at each other, concerned. "Are they dressed modestly?” We weren't sure if the girls were finished swimming or not and tried to answer their questions as best we could.
Now that I am home, back in New York City, that moment feels like a dream. The fact that boys would be worried that they might find themselves in an inappropriate situation rather than seeking one out now feels like a made-up utopian fantasy.