Raphael Mesengiser, 89, Sokhumi
Raphael Mesengiser is a Cohen, which is a type of priest and quite respected in the Jewish community. The status is handed down from generation to generation from father to son.
Raphael Messengiser was born in Sokhumi. He went to school there and graduated with honors. He remembers how difficult life was for the family during World War II. He lost his father but despite the hardship—hunger and cold—he and his brothers used to read the Torah together and study religious laws.
After graduated from high school, he went to Moscow. He studied at the Institute of Colored Metals and Gold, and graduated with a degree in metallurgical engineering. Upon returning to Georgia, he first started working in the mechanical engineering industry in Kutaisi. Later he moved to Poti, and worked in the shipbuilding factory. He was promoted and sent to Tbilisi, where he still lives.
Today Raphael works at Chasdei Eliyahu. He serves as a mashgiach, which means he supervises food service in the kitchen. Mashgiach means supervisor in Hebrew.
He starts every morning with prayer. During the day, he reads the Torah, Talmud, Psalms of David, and Maariv in the evening, generally after sunset.
Saturday is the most holy day for Jews. On Saturdays, Raphael walks to the synagogue to bless the Jewish community.