July 18, 2019

Marie Kondo for Orthodox Jews

“The lifestyle guru Marie Kondo has a show on Netflix with whizz ideas about how to tidy your home. I paid little attention to her until she had the chutzpah to suggest that a house should have no more than 30 books. THIRTY BOOKS. This provoked the journalist David Aaronovitch to tweet that one should have “a minimum of thirty books by your bed. Otherwise you can’t be certain of having something good to read.”

Kondo’s advice made me worry that many Orthodox Jews would take it on board, because as a community we’re never entirely happy with our homes. If we’re not paying a builder to do an extension, moving stuff around, renovating rooms or buying cupboards from Ikea, then at the very least we’re applying for planning permission, wondering if we need to get planning permission, or moaning about the fact that the Council never gave us planning permission.

I therefore feel duty bound to provide my own Konmari advice perfectly tailored to Orthodox Jews. Bear with me, it’s a random assortment of tips relating both to the home and how to have a perfect Shabbat.

Firstly the books: have as many as you want but pay attention to their arrangement. If the rabbi’s coming over and you want to be seen as that good Torah-loving Jew, make sure the sefarim you haven’t opened since your bar mitzvah are the first thing he sees. Push your Lolita, Anais Nins and Henry Millers to the other end, preferably behind other books. The Guide to Jewish Humour, Alan Dershowitz’s Chutzpah and Aerial Photos of Israel go somewhere in the middle.”

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