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Hip! Hip! Phooey!

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Topic: Hurrah, Hip Hip; Antisemetic Origins

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: [email protected]) 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)

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