What’s The Impact Of Jewish Culture On Health? Q&A With Ayokunle Falomo Regarding Health Literacy


hand washing with soap

This is a project from one of the classes I am taking, a Health Literacy class, and we were asked to interview someone of a different cultural background from us in order to better understand the impact of culture on health.” – Ayokunle Falomo

I objected to the fact that I have faith in Yeshua I may not be accepted in some circles as practicing authentic Judaism. And Ayokunle reminded me:

Bear in mind that the term “culture” refers to a group of people who are united in their beliefs, ideals, interest, etc;”- Ayokunle Falomo

So in response to that here is the Question & Answers:

Q: Ayokunle FalomoWhat culture do you represent? (Nationality? Religion?)

A: I represent Messianic Judasim or Christianity that practices its Jewish and Hebrew roots. I live in American however I associate more with the Jewish or Biblical culture. My family is mixed my wife is African-American, and myself am mixed between German, Irish, Nordic, French and Native American Indian.

Q: Ayokunle Falomo - What does it mean to be healthy?

A: It means to be healthy, whole and prosper spiritually, physically, mentally and socially. To have purity of mind, body, soul and spirit. To eat healthy and biblical kosher. To be clean and take Mikveh’s (baths and washing hangs). It means to have healthy relationships, and pure speech. It also means participating in social events or holy days and having large family and religious gatherings on our many holy days.

Having a communal life focused about maintaining pure relationships, eating biblical kosher foods, takings baths and washing our hands, etcetera…

Q: Ayokunle Falomo - To what degree does your culture determine your perception of Health?

A: There are comprehensive laws and Halacha regarding physical purity, clean and unclean foods and pure or holy behavior. We live a set apart life. We have laws about washing, the idea of bath and hand washing has existed in the Jewish culture for 3,000 years way before it was said to be healthy, way before Luois Pastuer. We even separate dishes for different holy days. Such as Passover since we eat no Chametz (Leaven) we use dishes that haven’t cooked any Chametz. Also the idea avoiding dead bodies and being unclean until you take a Mikvah (bath) and wait 24 hours is an idea that has kept G-ds people healthy. We don’t eat scavenger animals like Pigs (known to carry salmonella, swine flu and other disease), cat-fish (bottom feeders they eat everything), sharks (who eat everything), we eat fish with scales on them. we eat only animals with split hooves who chew the cud. We don’t wearing mixed fabrics because they can be abrasive and don’t last as long as they easily tear and fall apart.

In biblical times if one was unclean they would show themselves to the priest and then do the related Halacha (practice) to become pure and once done show yourself to the priest to see if you were clean or unclean. The priest was a type of doctor. Know a days since we live in diaspora and the temple hasn’t been rebuilt we rely on western doctors and physicians.

The laws of clean and unclean foods should be rightly understood as healthy and unhealthy.

The laws of purity or separation from what’s unclean should be rightly understood the same way as healthy and unhealthy in a modern sense.

There are 613 commands or (Mitzvah) in the Tanakh and over 1,050 commands in the Brit Chadasha (Renewed Covenant). That is 1,663 laws regarding a pure, clean life that covers all aspects of life, health, from social, to spiritual, to food, to communication, etcetera…

Sin is considered unhealthy as well, so living holy and peaceful with all men is also important. The power of blessing and cursing in our tongues, the power of positive speech are all central.

All aspects of life is mean to be clean, pure and set apart.

Q: Ayokunle Falomo - What are some of the largest health concerns in your culture?

A: Being Clean, Pure and Unspotted from sin or anything which would make one unclean. Observing the Halacha of purity or healthy separation from unclean things.

Q: Ayokunle Falomo - What are some of the cultural rituals that are practiced by your cultural community, as relating to Health and Healing?

A: Mikveh’s (Baths and Hand Washing), Torture free slaughtering of clean animals, draining and cooking the blood out of all clean foods, not mixing fabrics, separating oneself and practicing the Halacha to become clean when we becomes unclean. Having a priest or rabbi who helps you understand the purpose and function of the related Halacha.

Q: Ayokunle Falomo - How does your culture’s diet affect Health?

A: We’ll during the black plague because of the laws regarding not touching dead bodies, washing ones body and hands, and avoiding unclean animals, Jews didn’t die in mass numbers like the rest of society. Avoiding salmonella in pigs, and other animals also helps avoid swine flu among other ailes. Eating Kosher means we eat clean animals and not unclean animals.

Q: Ayokunle Falomo - How do you perceive access to health care for people in your culture?

A: In ancient times one went to a Priest. Now the Rabbi may teach Halacha, since there is not a temple we go to a physician for sickness or illness. So access to healthcare is normal and expected. One must be pure, clean, kosher, set-apart and healthy.

Q: Ayokunle Falomo - Are there any programs in your cultural community that are designed to address health needs and concerns? Talk about them.

A: I’ve discussed most of them in the previous questions. There is a focus on Tzedakah (giving) around Holy Day’s in which we give to those who are poor or in need. Jewish Family Services provides aide for those who are in need food, clothes and financial help, and some medical aide for Jews and N0n-Jews without descrimination. Again the Rabbi’s role in teaching proper Halacha to be pure, clean, kosher, set-apart and healthy is essential.

I wrote a previous article that deals with the laws of purity and the concept of being clean before Adonai title “The Process Of Purity: How Does One Become Clean When They Have Sinned Or Become Unclean? (Experiencing Freedom From Shame Part 2).”

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