Judit Gellérd M.D.
Physician, musician and Unitarian minister, Judit (Zizi) Gellérd grew up in Transylvania (today’s Romania) as the daughter of a Hungarian Unitarian minister-theologian, martyr of communist persecutions. She first graduated from music conservatory as a violinist, then from medical school. She specialized in neurology and psychiatry and practiced medicine in Transylvania and Budapest, Hungary, for twenty years. In 1988 she married California professor George M. Williams and moved to the United States. Zizi and George have been instrumental in creating a nationwide international Unitarian Universalist partner church movement since 1989. For her volunteer services and leadership, Starr King School for the Ministry (member of Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California) awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1994. In 2002 she graduated summa cum laude from Boston University School of Theology and was ordained by the Transylvanian Unitarian Church. In 2005-2006 First UU Society of San Francisco invited her to serve as a ministerial intern. For the last eighteen years, Zizi has been a frequent guest speaker in over a hundred UU churches around the country.
She studied with Nobel Peace laureate professor Elie Wiesel, and with his encouragement she wrote Prisoner of Liberté, both in English and Hungarian. She is a translator of scholarly works of theology and history, among them her father, Dr. Imre Gellerd’s A History of Transylvanian Unitarianism through Four Centuries of Sermons. In 2009 the Hungarian Academy of Sciences named a work by Prof. Mihály Balázs, published by University of Strasbourg in Zizi's English translation, as their Book of the Year.
As members of the faculty for Semester at Sea of University of Pittsburgh and University of Virginia, Zizi and George sailed around the world twice. Her recently published Hungarian literary travelogue, Ahol leoldom saruimat, has been highly acclaimed.
Zizi and George currently live in Hawaii, Zzi pursuing a writers’ career and George volunteering at a Hawaiian culture center.
My new book
Blessings of Failure is a memoir of a Transylvanian physician, a child of communism where failure was guaranteed. While her father languishes in Romania’s Gulag and her mother lives under secret police surveillance, the ten-year-old, politically-marked daughter of the Christian pastor is hidden and protected by her Jewish violin teacher. In a stubborn pursuit of realizing her parents' failed ideals, she keeps changing careers and countries. She excels in three professions, only to lose each as her inner quest drives her toward an ever-changing vision of becoming. All her striving comes to fruition in service to the very culture from which she fled. Paradoxically, her freedoms and successes have come from failures.