The Factory: HaMiffal by Cantor Jessica F. Epstein
One afternoon for lunch the Ulpan decided to go to a very close by and interesting place, HaMiffal — the Factory. Originally this building had been a house and then a school for people with developmental disabilities, and then it was empty for several decades. Abandoned and empty properties are a major problem in Jerusalem. Initially, they squatted in this building but were eventually given permission by the city to be there. They don’t know how long this will last, but they are optimistic.
They are an integral part of the Mamilla neighborhood, bringing students and children in for art projects and serving as a place to meet. Currently an artist is working on painting tiles that will be implanted into the sidewalks of the neighborhood. They are not such great friends with their neighbor the Ritz-Carlton, who really doesn’t appreciate their loud late-night dance parties. Well, too bad for them. This place serves an important creative and political purpose — filling abandoned buildings with life. There are over 250,000 sq meters of abandoned buildings in Jerusalem. Most are historic and can’t be changed and therefore developers have little interest. HaMiffal cannot even use the second floor—because the building is from the 19th century they would have to put in fire escapes, and changes like that are not permitted by the city.
HaMiffal is a place of anarchists, artists, visionaries and misfits. It’s a place where art is born and drinks are served, and a fascinating look into the underground artistic life of Jerusalem, which does not have the cutting edge art scene reputation of Tel Aviv.
There is a bar, restaurant and garden, and you are free to look at the installations and peek into the rooms where artists are at work. If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s really worth a stop to see a side of Jerusalem that is just a doorway away from the fancy hotels — but a world away.
Their Facebook page is here https://www.facebook.com/hamiffal/ and you can find them on Instagram here: @ha_miffal