Photo Credit: Joshua Israel Geller

Nissim Kachlon – who has been called The Hermit of Herzliah and The Caveman – would have made a great protagonist for a Hemmingway novel. Nissim lives on the beach in Herzliah Pituach close to the Sidna Ali Mosque And the Apollonia National Park, both tourist sites, which pale in comparison to Nissim’s house built in and on a cliff nearby.

Home is Where the Waves Are is graffitied on a bench on a path leading down to the most eclectic labyrinth of cave chambers chiseled into the cliff by Nissim’s two hands over nearly 50 years. But Nissim is facing eviction from his home, and the destruction of his life’s work. The Ministry for Environmental Protection claims that Nissim’s cliff house is unsafe. The self-taught engineer and architect, on the other hand, has stated that engineers have come to marvel at the house and its construction. Entirely chiseled from the rock, and built from cement, glass, plastic and fragments excavated from the trash, the house is a paradigm of eco-building and artistry that has stood the test of time.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kachlon started with a dinosaur shaped house that was built on the beach, but that was threatened by police. So he began again and for the last 48 years, until now, has been left pretty much alone. The 77-year-old has nowhere to go if evicted. He has invested his whole life, literally, in his unique residence. And it would destroy him to see it reduced to rubble.

Kachlon lived for years without any infrastructure. After a few years of living without fresh water, he dug a well and hit a spring that still provides fresh water. He says that rabbis from Bnei Brak come and take the water to bake matzah. Today he has regular electricity, water and telephone services provided. And he has people staying in some of the rooms who help him out.

Something scuttles behind a pile of rubble. Nissim has dealt with rats and snakes and foxes around the building. And there’s a 17-year-old black dog who belongs to Nissim’s son.

The rooms are works of art with mosaics, ceramics and paintings adorning the walls and floors. And the place is huge, though Nissim can’t tell you exactly how huge. It’s a work in progress.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In his younger days, Kachlon operated a beach-side restaurant, caught fish and sold trinkets on the side. He had amassed a small fortune of close to a million dollars. But the police arrested him and detained him for five days for investigation. When he returned home, he discovered the money had been stolen. He was left with nothing. Nissim did some soul-searching and concluded that this happened because he was living as a totally secular person and working on Shabbat. He was grateful it hadn’t been worse and started being religious, serving his Creator and having Torah classes in his cave. His bedside bookshelves are lined with religious books and as we were leaving, he pulled one out to learn.

“They should be giving me the Israel Prize, not trying to throw me out,” he said. I would agree. His beachfront, cliff-side home should be declared a heritage site. I sent a few emails off to the engineering department of the Herzliah municipality asking that if there is danger of the home collapsing why it can’t be reinforced instead of destroyed, but I received no response. Nissim claims the nearby marina has destroyed the ecosystem, while his home has only enhanced it.

Nissim’s presence has contributed more than just to tourism. He claims to have saved about 50 people from drowning during his sojourn by the sea.

Nissim is divorced and has three children, but his main source of help comes from people who have befriended him through staying at or writing about his home. It can be admitted that Nissim is a bit rough around the edges, like the stone that he hews, even at his age. “When I was young, I was a lion,” he growls. Today, he walks with a stick.

Nissim built his home through trial and error, fixing what needed to be fixed and recalibrating as he went. He praises G-d for everything He has given him. “Everything here is love,” he says. “Love is the best building material.”

His needs are simple. Nissim eats one meal a day at around four in the afternoon. He smokes a hand-rolled cigarette, drinks a cup of tea, and sits learning with incense burning and a lilt from the wind chimes. Friends and the National Insurance see to his needs.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

He has always lived independently and on his own terms. “I’ve realized my dream,” says Nissim. Now, despite his advanced age and limited resources, he has to fight a battle to keep it.

Nissim means miracles. Let’s hope he merits one.


If you’re in the area, you can stop by for a tour. Just call Nissim and he will direct you: 09-955-0756.

Sign the petition to save the cave/museum:

To donate to Kachlon’s legal fees or help in any other way, please contact: [email protected].


Previous articleBlinken Warns Jewish State Not to Allow Prayer
Next articleIDF Fighters Eliminate Terrorist After Attack Near Ofra
Rosally Saltsman's new book "100 Life Lessons I've Learned So You Don't Have To" is available for purchase in both hard cover and digital formats. Please contact Rosally at [email protected] to order a copy. You're sure to enjoy this humorous, insightful, poignant and instructional book.