Here is an answer from history:[1] Paraphrased and copied (with some abbreviations) from a paper by Glenn Dynner (who was my teacher at SLC):

In 1845, Tsar Nicholas of Russia decreed a ban on traditional Jewish clothing, because “Traditional Jewish attire was now deemed clannish and visibly repugnant, while Jewish hairstyles were said to encourage the spread of the scalp infection known as koltun.”

This was the banned look:

According to the ban, “Jewish men must no longer wear silk, certain kinds of wool, Jewish-style long coats, belts, Jewish hats, yarmulkes, short Jewish-style pants, knee-high laced shoes, beards or peyos.”

The ban also outlined specific restrictions on women’s dress.

It was forcefully enforced.

Here is a specific instance from Dynner’s paper:


“An incident that caused Polish officials some concern and embarrassment occurred on a train to Kraków and involved three Galician merchants […] As the train was making its way, two of the Jews, Markus and Leibel, were attracted by music coming from the dining car. Upon entering the car they encountered several uniformed railroad clerks, police, and the Police Inspector, Jaskiewicz. The police demanded to see Markus and Leibel’s passports and began to question them. Then, at Jaskiewicz’s order, they produced scissors, grabbed Markus, cut off his peyos, and stripped him of his Jewish-style shirt and jacket. Next,they grabbed Leibel and ripped off his outer clothes.

At that point, their third friend Berek entered the car. As neither Leibel nor Berek had visible peyos, the police at first only ripped off their shirts and jackets. But next they began to go for their beards, beginning with Markus.

Now, something remarkable happened: Berek began to physically defend his friend, while certain passengers and railroad clerks began to vocally protest against the behavior of the police. Finally, at the appearance of a Habsburg inspector, the police desisted. Though Inspector Jaskiewicz was to later claim that the “fanatical” Jews had “quarreled” with him, he was reprimanded and sentenced to twenty-four hours in a military prison.”


How about that!

Here is the full paper by Dynner: The Garment of Torah.

See also parts of the book Memoirs of a Grandmother for a woman’s telling of how scissors were used left and right.

Footnotes

[1] The Garment of Torah: Clothing Decrees and the First Gerer Rebbe

They kiss.

The Hasidic couple, of my community’s arranged marriage variety, has their first kiss in the private room.

Someone recorded a Hasidic male teacher preparing the boy for marriage. The teacher is talking to a sheltered, nineteen year old boy who had no prior contact with women. The whole thing is difficult to listen to – for emotional reasons – but here is the transcribed and translated instructions for the Yichud Room:


“You walk into the yichud room. As soon as you get into the yichud room, you lock the door, — what’s her [your bride’s] name?”

“Libby”

“Libby? Very good name. You give her like so, Mazel Tov Libby, with both hands. Kay? Tell her Mazel tov, bless her very nicely, tell her to repeat with you: ‘May God help us have a good home, we should always be healthy, and always have good marital accord, mmm… talk, talk, talk.’ And as soon as you say the word “Amen”, the hand leave here (?), embrace her, and give her a good kiss here and here. Kay? In the cheek. Not in the mouth. Kay? And as soon as you finished kissing her you say ‘Wow Libby, your gown came out BEAUTIFUL, so stunning, it’s very, very nice.’ Fine. Tell her I have something for you, take out the earrings [a big gift, by every groom], she puts it on, say ‘Wow, it’s very very very nice on you.’ The next thing is, say ‘Come, let’s sit down…’”


And now you know.

This is how I did up side-curls nice and neat.

My expertise: nine brothers, one son. Modeling for you is the kiddo, whose hair was reluctant to grow. Hence the short curl.

My son and brother (and other brother)

On an ordinary day during the morning rush: grab a plastic cup from the pantry, grab the orange juice from the fridge. Poor about a quarter cup orange juice onto the cup. Then use a bit of orange juice to wet the sidecurl, comb the wet hair over the forehead. Push a pencil under the hair closest to the head. Now start twirling the hair around the pencil towards the face. Let the kid hold the pencil in place while you do the other one. It should be just a minute before the orange juice dries and the hair is nice and crispy.

On special occasions — put a Bobby pin into the curl.

DO NOT: mistaken payos for curling ribbon:

Nope.

And chup doesn’t fly either. All the hair up top. Oy.

And this. What. What is this.

Don’t even know what that is. Hollywood messes up the sidecurls far too often. It is so simple, duh!

This is how I did up side-curls nice and neat.

My expertise: nine brothers, one son. Modeling for you is the kiddo, whose hair was reluctant to grow. Hence the short curl.

My son and brother (and other brother)

On an ordinary day during the morning rush: grab a plastic cup from the pantry, grab the orange juice from the fridge. Poor about a quarter cup orange juice onto the cup. Then use a bit of orange juice to wet the sidecurl, comb the wet hair over the forehead. Push a pencil under the hair closest to the head. Now start twirling the hair around the pencil towards the face. Let the kid hold the pencil in place while you do the other one. It should be just a minute before the orange juice dries and the hair is nice and crispy.

On special occasions — put a Bobby pin into the curl.

DO NOT: mistaken payos for curling ribbon:

Nope.

And chup doesn’t fly either. All the hair up top. Oy.

And this. What. What is this.

Don’t even know what that is. Hollywood messes up the sidecurls far too often. It is so simple, duh!

I gave a tour of Hasidic Williamsburg to a group of Mennonites, which are similar to Amish but maybe in some ways less insular. I think. That’s how they explained it to me.

Notice me in the jacket without a pretty hand sewn dress! I look so bad. So much like a shiksa, a bad Jewish girl. But wait. They are all not even Jewish!

The similarities between Hasidim and the Amish is striking. Both groups are incredibly insular in their way of thinking and have a world view that sees change, assimilation, integration as the destruction of their people. The women also behaved a lot like my childhood friends. Everyone was very careful to say the right and proper thing. Dare I say… repressed?

The one point in the tour that everyone broke into laughter was when I asked what kind of media they are allowed to watch, and then added on an impulse that came from my experience with Hasidim: “but don’t say anything that will get you in trouble!” and they all cracked up. They knew exactly what I meant. Whatever media you are watching that is verbotten, don’t mention that — everyone here can hear! The laugh was so knowing, so familiar.

But there were big differences too. The Hasidim sounded positively metropolitan next to our group and — all took pictures of us. One Hasidic woman came over and said “Good for you, you come here. We go to you in Amishtown, you should come back and enjoy the sites back!” Her confidence was wonderful Another difference: the Hasidic men are also a lot less timid.

What I realized is that both these groups believe in holding on to their traditions despite the changing tides around them. And when you try to preserve a way of life while you’re in the very enticing America with all its flashy colors and addictive ways, then you develop many similar methods: a unique language, dress and a rejection of popular entertainment. Both these groups have done it largely successfully.