The scene is in a synagogue,
but the word probably has nothing to do with religion.
It seems that the butchers in town
were either at fault, or the ones faulted.
Something about meat being sent out of the shtetl,
and the butchers collecting money.
Those protesting in half-mumbled sentences
end their words with “kupkes kupkes”
or possibly “kuFkes kuFkes.”
I don’t see how hats or head-coverings would be involved,
unless it was somehow used as a symbol of protest
(maybe something “socialist,” like waving the flag,
or similar to the Bund motto: sher un ayzn [scissors and iron])
or something like throwing down a gauntlet
(in this case a hat – maybe like the Muslims throw shoes)
or used as a swear word or curse…
and someone else suggested a typo (twice?).
(Discussion about the Yiddish word ‘kupkes’ on Mendele (vol23011.txt). Submitted by Howie Good)