Nissim’s Cave-House, Team USA’s Retreat
Over the years Blackburn has seen much of Israel, including Masada, the Dead Sea and other historic and heritage sites the Maccabiah participants usually travel to. However, when asked to name the place he loves the most, he chooses a location along the beach of the Mediterranean Sea many Israelis have never heard of: a cave house, built into the cliff — by a man who lives there to this day.
“We asked a cab driver to take us somewhere outside of Tel Aviv and the city, so he dropped us off at the beach, and we started walking… We saw a strange structure in the side of the cliff,” Blackburn tells of how he befriended Nissim Kachalon, also known as the Herzliya hermit. “We befriended the guy.”
Since meeting Kachalon in 1985, Blackburn has visited him on every one of his trips to Israel. In fact, “he hosted the entire softball team,” and though he doesn’t like to venture away from his home — built nearly 40 years ago out of rocks, ruins, and what others thought was garbage — “he came to watch one of our games in 1989.” This trip, Blackburn hopes to see his friend, but knows getting to the house isn’t really an option. “It’s hard to go through sand in a wheelchair… but hopefully I’ll get together with him again.”
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