Faculty Directory
Jess Olson


Associate Professor of Jewish History

BA, University of Washington,
PhD, Stanford University,
Other, Oxford University Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, 1999

Dr. Jess Olson is an associate professor of Jewish history. Interested in questions of nationalism, religion, and Jewish identity in nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, Dr. Jess Olson’s areas of research include the Jews of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany, history of Zionism and Jewish nationalism, and the intersection between Jewish Orthodoxy and political engagement. His manuscript on early Zionist, later Yiddishist, and finally executive in the Agudat Yisrael, Dr. Nathan Birnbaum, "Nathan Birnbaum and Jewish Modernity" was released in December, 2012 by Stanford University Press. His publications include: “Nathan Birnbaum and Tuvia Horowitz: Friendship and the Origins of an Orthodox Ideologue,” "Nation, Peoplehood and Religion in the Life and Thought of Nathan Birnbaum," and “The Late Zionism of Nathan Birnbaum: The Herzl Controversy Reconsidered.” Dr. Olson was a Yad Hanadiv/Beracha Foundation Fellow for the 2010-2011 academic year and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for 2011.

Modern Jewish cultural and intellectual history; European Jewish history; history of Zionism and Jewish nationalism; history of Orthodoxy; Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire; modern Jewish thought

Recipient of 2010-11 Yad Hanadiv/Beracha Foundation Fellowship; Recipient of 2010-11 Fulbright Fellowship (declined); Littauer Foundation Book Grant; Chelst Book Grant, Yeshiva University; Recipient of Hazel D. Cole Fellowship, University of Washington, 2005-06.

Nathan Birnbaum and Jewish Modernity: Architect of Zionism, Yiddishism and Orthodoxy (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2013) (Book) “The Agudah, the Ba’al Tshuve, and the Complexities of Orthodox Politics in Interwar America,” American Jewish History (accepted October, 2012) “The Dreyfus Affair in Early Zionist Culture,” Revising Dreyfus: Art and Law, Maya Balakirsky Katz, ed. (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, forthcoming 2013) “Orthodoxy and Ultra-Orthodoxy as Forces in Modern Jewish Life,” The Cambridge History of Judaism, Vol. 8: The Modern Period (c. 1815-2000), Tony Michels and Mitchell Hart, editors. (Forthcoming) “Emancipating Jewish Sacred Architecture: Reimagining the Synagogue in the 19th and 20th Centuries” Jewish Sacred Architecture (Cambridge World History of Religious Architecture series) (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) “Jerusalem Rebuilt: Fin-de-Siecle visions of the Temple of Jerusalem in Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland and Ost und West,” in The Temple of Jerusalem: From Moses to the Messiah, Steven Fine, ed. (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2011) “A Tale of two photographs: Nathan Birnbaum, the election of 1907 and the 1908 Conference of the Yiddish Language,” Czernowitz at 100: The First Yiddish Language Conference in Historical Perspective, Joshua Fogel and Kalman Weiser, eds. (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009) “The Late Zionism of Nathan Birnbaum: The Herzl controversy reconsidered,” AJS Review, 31, 2 (2007) (Peer Reviewed article) “Nathan Birnbaum and Tuvia Horowitz: Friendship and the Emergence of an Orthodox Ideologue,” Jewish History 17, 1 (2003) (Peer Reviewed article)

212-960-5400 x5116

Wilf campus - Belfer Hall


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Fall 2018
Austro-Hung Jewry 1772-1916
JHI 6541


Culture of the Fin de Siecle
INTC 1016


Modern Jewish History
JHI 1400


Spring 2018
Culture of the Fin de Siecle
INTC 1016


Culture of the Fin de Siecle
INTC 1016341


German Jewry: 1840-1933
JHI 6540


Independent Study
JHI 4901


Modern Jewish History
JHI 1400


Fall 2017
Culture of the Fin de Siecle
INTC 1016H


Jews and Empires
JHI 6417


Modern Jewish History
JHI 1400


Spring 2017
Culture of the Fin de Siecle
INTC 1016


German Jew Intellectual Hist
JHI 6416


History of German Jews
JHI 3455