By Ameera Steward
Last fall, Ahinoam Israel opened a café in Bessemer to provide herbal supplements that have helped her and can help others.
“It’s something that’s close to my heart because … it helped me get through a lot of stuff, [like] having my daughter at the age ,” she said. “I was able to have her, [and] I had to do a lot of cleansing, do a lot of holistic work. I was like, ‘I want to share this with other people because this could help people, especially African American women.’”
Israel and her husband David operate Good Health to be Hail, a total-wellness center that features a café and juice bar serving fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies, organic fruits, herbal teas, organic coffees, raw foods, and cooked vegan food, such as pulled jackfruit burgers and gluten-free dishes. Additionally, they offer fitness classes, health consultations, and a variety of other services.
“I kind of consider myself a hub for holistic healers and fitness people because … I [work with] a lot of people and use their services,” said Ahinoam, adding that she has a love for trying to help people see other lifestyle alternatives.
“It’s about giving people an example of how to live a plant-based, raw, vegan lifestyle,” she said. “I really just want to be of service and help people with [their] issues because I know how it is.”
The center’s other holistic offerings include modalities like Pilates and yoga, although Ahinoam doesn’t teach the workout classes.
“I take it, or I have somebody in here [to teach it],” she said. “That’s part of it: trying to have someone who can [teach] classes.”
The Good Health to be Hail holistic wellness center was opened to help people address their health issues in a holistic way, but mainly through diet.
“We opened the café in September , and I started counseling people, [showing them ways] to eat a holistic, vegan, plant-based diet.”
Some of the people Ahinoam would counsel were reluctant to change their diets, “so we just said, … ‘We should open a café … so people can have the food I talk about.”
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Ahinoam, 51, is originally from Jackson, Miss. She attended Tougaloo College, outside of Jackson, from 1986 until 1988, and then she transferred to Southern Mississippi University. After graduating in 1991 with a degree in speech communication and a radio-television-and-film minor, she worked at a television station in Jackson. In 1996, she moved to Birmingham to work in the same field. David grew up in Bessemer and attended Jacksonville State University; he graduated in 1989 with a communications degree.
The couple met while both worked at a Birmingham television station. At the time, David was a vegetarian.
“I was a regular meat eater, … then I went to the far left. I’m a vegan now,” said Ahinoam, who has been vegan for approximately 10 years.
The couple opened their first business in Bessemer: Four Winds Communications, which builds websites and does documentaries, as well as commercial and multimedia productions. Because their building has two sides, David suggested that his wife consider the café. Four Winds is on the right and Good Health to be Hail is on the left; each has a separate entrance, but they are connected by a room that is used both for Good Health classes and as a Four Winds studio.
David initially bought the building to follow in the footsteps of entertainment giants. His dad was a DJ, and his mother played piano for a choir.
“Music was always with me. I saw [BET television network co-founder] Bob Johnson come on the scene, and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do. I want to do TV, radio, newspapers. … I want to [do] communications. I want to own stuff,’” said David, who also was inspired by the success of film directors Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, and the late John Singleton.
David did music videos for local artists, such as Ace Da Future and MVP The King, as well as commercials for Jazzy’s Hair Salon on Third Avenue and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Those opportunities led him to acquire the Bessemer building, so he would have a physical location for his work.
“I had been to white production units, which had [pool tables] and catered food. … I liked that concept,” said David, adding that a lot of his attention is currently geared toward the café.
“I like what I’m doing now,” he said. “[The café] reaches more people and [allows me to] reach more people. More people are satisfied.”
As for Four Winds, its activities are more “high-end,” or on the pricier side. The café, however, is about helping people improve their health: “More people are open to that,” David said.
“Here to Help”
The Good Health to be Hail is café is open Monday through Friday, and Ahinoam and David have equal responsibilities, cooking and taking orders.
“We’re here to provide service,” said Ahinoam. “It’s really about serving people. We’re not a fad or trying to be a part of the fashion. We’re here to help, and good health really is to be hailed. … If you want to make it yours, it comes in different forms and fashions. Usually, it’s through reforming your food habits. It’s about good health, … [and] you have to choose it.”
Good Health to be Hail and Four Winds are located at 1920 8th Ave. N., Bessemer, AL 35020. For more information about the wellness center and café, call 205-277-2810; visit goodhealthtobehail.com; or follow on Instagram @goodhealthtobehail and Facebook @Good Health To Be Hail Holistic Wellness and Culture Learning Center. To find out more about communications services, call 205-760-5551; visit fourwindscommunications.com; or follow on Instagram @fourwindstv, Twitter @FourWindsTV, and Facebook @FourWindsTV.
This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.