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College of Arts and Sciences

Olga Litvak

Associate Professor

Department and Program Affiliations:


Academic focus:

History of the Jews in imperial Russia, Jewish intellectual history

Current research project: 

“Zionism Before Herzl: M. L. Lilienblum and the Cultural Origins of the Jewish Revolution” — a critical biography of M. L. Lilienblum (1843-1910), the founder of the Jewish national movement in Russia. Argues that the intellectual sources of Zionism are not to be sought in secular theories of nationalism but in the Talmudic stronghold of the “Lithuanian Jerusalem."                                

Previous positions:

  • Associate Professor and Michael and Lisa Leffell Chair in Modern Jewish History, Department of History, Clark University, 2008-2018
  • Director, Center for Jewish Studies, Department of Judaic Studies, State University of New York, Albany, 2007-2008
  • Assistant Professor, Department of History and the Program in Judaic Studies, Princeton University, 1999-2007

Academic background: 

  • Ph.D., History, Columbia University, 1999
  • B.A., History, Columbia College, Columbia University, 1992

Last book read:

“The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie

In your own time/when not working:  

Reading cookbooks

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:

I’m looking forward to them all; I really like teaching.

What most excites you about Cornell:

The library.