God is only where you let Him in.

Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

Alexander (Shunya) Gelman

Alexander Isaakovich Gelman (Russian: Алекса́ндр (Шу́ня) Исаа́кович Ге́льман, born October 25, 1933, in Donduşeni, now in Donduşeni district, Moldova) is a Russian playwright, writer, screenwriter. He was also member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.


Early years

Shunya (later renamed Alexander) Gelman was born in a Moldovian village, in the family of Isaac Davydovich (1904—1981) and Manya Shaevna (1910—1942) Gelman. During his childhood, World War II has started and the Nazis deported him and his Jewish family into the Bershad ghetto in Transnistria, where his mother died. Only he and his father (from 14 deported

After the war he lived in Chişinău and worked as a locksmith. He went to military college and became an officer. He also worked in factories and in construction. He never finished high school.

In 1966 he moved to Leningrad, where he worked as a journalist on the municipal newspapers Smena and Construction Worker. During this period he started learning and working on screenwriting.

Soviet screenwriter

In 1970 he co-authored a screenplay (with his future wife Tatiana Kaleckaya). It was later filmed as Night Shift.

The next screenplay, also together with Tatiana, led to movie Xenia, Wife of Fyodor (Lenfilm, 1974) that won an award in a USSR-wide competition. His career peaked in 1975 with the filming of Premia (Salary Bonus). Because of the film' importance for the Marxism-related topic of worker's wages, Alexander Gelman was awarded the USSR State Prize.

The screenplay was developed into a play for the stage called Journal of the One Meeting that was staged in Leningrad at the Gorky Bolshoi Drama Theater (by Georgy Tovstonogov) and a year later in Moscow Art Theatre (by Oleg Yefremov). There are many other plays, screenplays, and other works authored by Gelman.

Communist party

In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachov personally recommended Alexander Gelman to become a Member of Central Committee.


In 1992-1993, he actively participated in works of the Constitutional convention that produced the current Constitution of Russian Federation. Since 2001 he is a member of Public council of the Russian Jewish Congress.

On Ocotber 25, 2008, he received a birthday greeting from President of Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedev.

Article author: Zipora Galitski
Article tags: biography
The article is about these people:   Alexander (Shunya) Gelman

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