Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the

Ghelerter, Litman

(1873–1945), physician, socialist activist, and writer. Born in the Romanian city of Iaşi, Litman (Leon) Ghelerter attended a commercial high school. As a student at the Faculty of Medicine in Iaşi, he also took courses in law and taught at the Cultura school in Iaşi, a renowned “Israelite–Romanian” institution. Ghelerter earned his medical degree in 1899; his defense of his thesis on alcoholism revealed an interest in social medicine that informed his entire career.

After serving as a military physician during World War I, Ghelerter worked at the pediatric hospital in Iaşi and was the deputy principal of the Jewish Cultura school from 1905 to 1906. He founded the Hospital Iubirea de Oameni in Bucharest, the foundation stone of which specified, in 1926, that this Jewish establishment was to serve all inhabitants of Bucharest “regardless of their nationality or beliefs.” In 1944, again in Bucharest, he set up Întrajutorarea (Mutual Support), a medical and social institution. Ghelerter was one of the founding members of the Mira home and sanatorium in Eforie Nord, which functioned during the interwar years.

Captivated by the socialist movement, Ghelerter believed that his role as a doctor and teacher was to fulfill the needs of the lower classes. He established institutions, including a support organization for teachers of the Cultura school, as well as a bakery cooperative in Iaşi. In 1895, Ghelerter became a member of the Jewish socialist circle Lumina (Light).

Ghelerter refused to abandon his belief that the socialist movement must also advocate the granting of civil rights to the Jewish population, and consequently came into conflict with Romanian socialist leaders; as a result, he was excluded from the Social Democrat Party in 1895. Immediately after World War I, he served as head of the Workers Socialist Party, a political group on the extreme left that collaborated with the Romanian Communist Party in the election campaigns of 1922 and 1926.

Ghelerter was a frequent contributor to socialist publications such as Munca, Lumea Nouă (in which he signed his articles under the pseudonyms Mihai Văleanu and Dr. Păcurariu), Libertatea, and Social-democrația. He was a member of the editorial boards of Lumina and Viitorul Social; the latter was an influential theoretical publication of the Romanian socialist movement. He was also an editor of Convorbiri sociale, in which his celebrated study “Descreşterea populației israelite din România, 1899–1912” (Decrease of the Israelite Population in Romania, 1899–1912) was published. He also wrote for prestigious cultural publications such as Evenimentul literar and the Jewish review Adam.

Suggested Reading

Litman Ghelerter, Scrieri social-politice, ed. Ion Felea and Florian Tănăsescu (Bucharest, 1980); Ionel Maftei, “Dr. Ghelerter,” in Personalităṭi ieşene, vol. 1, pp. 267–269 (Iasi, 1972); Lucian Predescu, ed., “Ghelerter, L.,” in Enciclopedia României “Cugetarea”: Material românesc, oameni si înfaptuiri, p. 352 (Bucharest, 1999); Liviu Rotman, Şcoala Israelito-română: 1851–1914 (Bucharest, 1999), pp. 380–382.



Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea