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Advice for Professional Organizers

Posted on 18 July 2010

Advice for Professional Organizers when working with Jewish Families

What you need to know when working with the Orthodox Jewish population

How can you help them organize their Jewish holidays and Sabbath especially if you are not Jewish!

1. Do not shake husband’s hand.

2. Kitchen is separated by meat and dairy so be careful when sorting.

3. Clothing categories will be different due to modest attire for women and religious practices

4. Certain religious items cannot simply be discarded. Religious writings need to be taken to a special place to be buried, known as “Shaimos” (literally translated as “names” as much religious writings have god’s name in them and that is why they cannot be thrown away.)

5. Be wary of what you bring for lunch in case you need to use a microwave. Your lunch may need to be wrapped in plastic wrap in order to do so.

6. There are items that may warrant asking a Rabbi what to do with, for example, if milk and meat silverware was accidentally switched when cooking. These items can go in a “pending” category until answered by the Rabbi.

7. Every Friday night and Saturday, there are Sabbath meals. Think of it as having Thanksgiving every single weekend. Lots of food, guests, etc. Meal plans, recipe planning, grocery lists, table setting ideas will help.

8. Every inch of the house is mostly used due to frequent guests or kids. It’s not like in other houses where you can turn their unused dining room, for example, into an office. The dining room always gets used, guest rooms also.

9. Some orthodox Jewish families have a lot of kids! Have hand-me down and out-of-season clothing storage measures in place. Toy storage and kids room organizing systems need to be in place. Several kids may be sharing a room so devoting an area for each kids belongings is a necessity.

10. There is always a lot of cooking being done. It is helpful to devote a room or part of a laundry room for overflow food storage (lots and lots of shelves for bulk food items) and another oven and freezer, for added storage and Passover.

11. During Passover, everything in the kitchen that is used during the year cannot be used. All pantry foods needs to be put away and dishes and pots as well. If possible, if there is room in the kitchen to devote to Passover utensils- all year round, keep it in the kitchen so there is no need to walk up and down the steps to convert to Passover. An entire set of kitchen items is bought special for Passover.

12. Not only do meat and dairy categories exist, there is Passover, meat, milk, in-between (Pareve) and dishes for Sabbath. Sometimes there are 5 sets of dishes! Streamlining and sorting is essential as there are things that are not getting used. For example- no one needs 4 can openers. They can ask their Rabbi for clarification.

13. Charity solicitations are frequent by mail and at the door. There is counsel pertaining to the order of importance of charity solicitations. Money is first used for family and local charities, then for Israel charities. Create a boundary to help sift through the solicitations- remind them of the order of importance and then teach them the beauty of purging without guilt. A lot of guilt can be involved here.

14. Categories also apply to clothing. There is Sabbath and holiday clothing and shoes as well as weekday clothing, costumes, and in-between clothing for intermediate days of a holiday. Establish closet organizing systems to help keep track of all outfits!

15. There are a lot more “things” in an orthodox household. There really needs to be a home for everything. A place for prayer books, candle lighting materials, religious objects, wigs, etc. Because of the requirements of the faith, many more physical objects are possessed. Create a home for everything and record where the “home” is.

16. Because there is so much to do for the holidays, a lot of planning is necessary. See Jewish Holiday Perfectly Organized for countdowns and step-by-step instructions for how to get each holiday completed.

If you would like more advice on working with observant Jewish families, please fill out the form below. It will help me understand the magnitude of POs working with Observant Jewish families and what kind of need there is for articles and presentations.

Thank you to Amanda Lancaster of for providing me with tips based on her experience working with observant Jewish families!

If you would like to purchase the Jewish Holiday and Sabbath Perfectly Organized series for your clients, you can earn 50% on every sale you make. Click here for more information about our affiliate program

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