My first meaningful Jewish experience at seventeen was a Passover Seder. At the time, I was living with an addict. He would freebase heroin, ‘chasing the dragon’, as it was known, pretty much every day, and I regularly would come home from High School and find him sitting on our couch with eyes wide open, only the whites visible. Sadly, though almost inevitably, he eventually died of an overdose.
In 167 BCE, the Greeks set out to destroy Judaism by imposing a ban on Jewish tradition, punishable by death. Many Jews had assimilated already. Once the decree was made, many more followed. A small band of die-hard Jews, known as the Maccabees, revolted and, three years later, succeeded in evicting the oppressors.