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Home Organizing Idea

Posted on 18 July 2010

A new world of home organizing ideas customized for the observant Jewish home? Is it really necessary?

This site is written for the Jewish home with regards to creating a home organizing idea that works for them. But isn’t this exclusionary? Is it really necessary to divide up a home organizing niche just for the Jewish population?
Here’s an article I wrote for the Baltimore Jewish News. I hope it will answer any doubts you may have of the need for creating this new niche.

reprinted from the Baltimore Jewish News

by Rivka Slatkin

Scenario 1. You’ve been keeping a home for over 20 years, your linen closet would make Martha Stewart proud, your chicken soup is always cooked on Wednesday, table set Thursday, and you are resting erev Shabbos. You may be thinking, “What would I learn from an article on keeping Jewish life organized?

Scenario 2. Often feeling frazzled, making Pesach is a last minute affair, and Shabbos showers often run into the 18 minutes, you definitely want some organizing tips.

Organizing and the art of keeping home is an increasingly popular topic. You may have watched or read about decorating and organizing makeovers, or perhaps have hired a professional organizer yourself.

I believe it is now time to take organizing science a step further. We as observant Jews can most certainly apply practically all of the organizing tips, advice, and tools out there to our own somewhat different lifestyles.

You would, for example, wade through the plethora of information on “Spring Cleaning” advice and apply what is relevant to your own Pesach preparation. Or, read about time management tips and use it for your daily, weekly, monthly schedule and pile on weekly Shabbos prep and holiday demands to it.

Wouldn’t it be nice to create a niche just for us- inside of the organizing world and for frum jews? Doesn’t it make sense? We’ve got milchigs, fleishigs, pareve, shabbos, yom tov, pesach, vochodik, etc.

We need individualized solutions for keeping Jewish life organized. So here it goes:

Because we own so many things, and subcategories of these “things” (think Shabbos china, fleishig dishes, milchig, pareve) two organizing principles become very important specifically with regards to the observant lifestyle.

1. Storage

2. Holding “kup” (being on top of things)-thinking like a waiter or waitress and constantly clearing, sorting, and keeping aware of what is coming into and going out of your home.

Storage

Where are you keeping all of your possessions? You must utilize your storage areas to maximum capacity. It may help to bring in a professional to assist you with finding areas for storage that go underused.

You have only 4 ways to think about how and where to store things. Hang it up, store it in a drawer, on the floor, or on a shelf. If you ask me my preference, I tend to go with hanging items up as much as possible since floor space is at such a premium.

For example, many of us use wine for Kiddush. Why not create an attractive wine display on a wall in the dining room using narrow shelves made expressly for laying wine down horizontally. Often times these wine ledges have metal grids underneath them to hang wine glasses upside down. (look at the Pottery Barn collection) Very very attractive.

Or, how about using a set of dishes as a display. Plate racks and pegs can hang mugs and several dishes on the wall, freeing up valuable cupboard space and serving a decorative purpose.

Before you go out to buy another piece of furniture or storage unit that sits on the floor, ask yourself if there is any wall space available to use. If you need more ideas I’d be happy to help.

Holding “Kup”

You may not like this requirement as much. Be on top of what is in your home. Know what you have. Keep track of what is coming into your home. Do you know what is in your basement? Even a rough idea will do. If you are into feng shui at all, clutter represents just that, a cluttered life and a cluttered mind potentially keeping you “stuck” in your relationships, job, finances or more chas veshalom (See Gemara Berachos 57b on how a nice home can impact your state of mind).

If you know already what is in your home (Scenario 1) great. Go one step further and perform a home inventory; listing every expensive item in your home and passing along that document to the insurance company or keep it in a safe somewhere.

For someone leaning more towards Scenario 2, feeling pretty disorganized most of the time, I want you to get a handle on the present influx. For now, don’t worry about past items acquired sitting in your basement or wherever.

The way you do this is by setting guidelines and sticking to them. For every pair of shoes you buy, for example, you bring 2 to Hadassah. For every black skirt you bring in, another 3 skirts go out. Teach this principle to everyone living in your home, your kids, spouse, mother-in-law, whomever!

The rewards are incredible. As a friend/client mentioned to me, her Pesach preparation was so much easier for her this year than in years past. Why? She had barely been able to even work around all of the clutter in order to clean for Pesach. Over the past year, she worked hard to get rid of clutter and manage the influx of day to day belongings. When Pesach 2006 came around, she was able to focus only on cleaning for Pesach. She had never been able to do this before because of all of the extraneous clutter needing to be dealt with, never mind Pesach cleaning.

I am looking forward to assisting you further in providing practical techniques for keeping Jewish life organized.


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