Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi - 261

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Ask the Rabbi

1 January 2000; Issue #261

Hip! Hip! Phooey!


Eric Posnack wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I once heard that the expression, "Hip, hip, hurrah!" has anti-Semitic roots. The reason given was that during pogroms in Europe and Russia, excited masses would scream, "Hierosylma est Perdita," Latin for "Jerusalem is lost," which later was shortened to its acronym, "hep." Is there any truth to this?

Dear Eric,

The phrase does have anti-Semitic roots. Rioters in Europe sometimes shouted "Hep! Hep!" while on prowl for Jews, and mob harassment of Jews in Hamburg, Frankfurt, and other German cities in 1819 became known as the "Hep! Hep!" riots. Hitler's storm troopers adopted this jeer.

Regarding its source, Professor Robert Michael of the University of Massachusettes Dartmouth (E-mail: told us: "I have been looking for years but have not found any authoritative source for this phrase. Lots of arguments from German historians who feel it is just a call as for goats to get moving."

But according to Dagobert Runes in The War Against the Jew, "Hep! Hep!" was an anti-Semitic riot slogan shouted by the Crusaders, deriving from the first letters of the Latin phrase "Hierosylma Est Perdita (Jerusalem is destroyed)." Another source claims it was a common toast used at Roman feasts to celebrate Rome's defeat of Jerusalem in which one person would say "Hierosolyma Est Perdita — Jerusalem is destroyed," and the guests would shout "Hurrah!"

Interestingly, the word "hurrah" is similar to the word which King David predicts the "Children of Edom (Rome)" will shout as they destroy Jerusalem: "Remember, G-d, for the children of Edom the day of Jerusalem — for those who say ‘Arruh! Arruh! Destroy it to its very foundation!" (Psalms 137)

Dulberg Update


Most of you may already know about the Dulberg girls, two observant Israeli children taken away from their mother by the Italian courts. The Revered Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, shlita, has called this "the classic case of redemption of captives in our time."

In brief: After four years of divorce, Moshe Dulberg of Genoa Italy reopened custody hearings against his ex-wife Tali when he learned of her move towards observant Judaism. He claimed that being an observant Jew renders her unfit to act as mother to their two girls.

In an outrageous court case in which Orthodox Jews were likened to drug addicts and war criminals, the Italian courts accepted the father's claim. The mother's great love for her girls and the girls' adamant wish to remain with her were accepted as evidence against the mother as proof that she was indoctrinating the girls into a strange cult.

As a result, the court awarded complete custody to the father. The mother has been declared no longer legal guardian and is cut off from all contact with the girls in their native tongue, Hebrew. Her one monthly visit involves severe and complicated restrictions, and the girls are suffering as a result.

The father attempts to break the girls of their observant lifestyle. For example, he keeps the girls separate from one another and reads to them from the New Testament. Last year the father converted to Catholicism and has been baptized. For a full summary of this case, write to <>

On a positive note, your emails, faxes, and letters of protest have apparently had a substantial effect. If you have not already done so, write, fax or email your protest to the following addresses, expressing your outrage — respectfully, of course — at the injustice of this court decision that denies the basic human rights of these girls and their mother:

  1. Ambassador Francesco Paolo Fulci/
    Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations
    Two U.N. Plaza, 24th Floor
    N.Y., N.Y. 10017
    Phone: 212-486-9191
    Fax: 212-486-1036

  2. His Excellency Ambassador Ferdinando Salleo, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United States, Embassy of Italy
    1601 Fuller St., N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20009
    Fax: 202-483-2187.

  3. The Honorable Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of Italy
    Palazzo del Quirinale
    Rome, Italy 00187
    Fax 3906-46992384

The Public Domain
Comments, quibbles, and reactions concerning previous "Ask-the-Rabbi" features.


Re: Czechs in the Mail:

Greetings from the Czech Republic. I read every week Ohr Somayach's Ask the Rabbi issue and always share it with my friends. It helps me a lot in studies, answers my questions clearly. Thank you very much!

(Marketa Rubesova, Czech Republic)

Re: Y2K and the "Year 2100 Prayer Book Bug" (Ask the Rabbi #255, Yiddle Riddle):

Regarding the date for rain prayers changing to the 5th and 6th in the year 2100; I once saw an old siddur that had the 3rd & 4th.

Hopefully, by the year 2100 the mashiach will already have come and re-established the central Beit Din in Jerusalem, so that all the calendar issues will be based on witnesses and the judge's decision.

It's really incorrect to call this year the millenium. The millenium is next year, not this year, because in their calendar there is no year 0.

(M. Perlman via the Internet)

Re: Food Fight (Ask the Rabbi #Ask259):

Regarding confiscating food from students: I was advised that when taking anything from a student I should ask him to give it to me rather than taking it. I try to be sure to return the item after school to show that I am acting for his benefit and not for any personal gain.

Re: Colored Candles (Ask the Rabbi #ask258):

Regarding the reason for colored Chanuka candles: Many manufacturers recognize that some of us are too ferklempt to remember which night it is, so the candles are color coded: Two reds for the first night, three greens for the second night… This is sometimes harder than calculating the nights since most of the subtle pastels are indiscernible to folks like me with red/green color blindness.

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