Ruven Evilevich was born in 1921 in Samara, Russia, to the family of a Jewish hat maker. Samara is located in the Lower Volga region, in southern Russia and was far from the former Pale of Jewish Settlement and from traditional Jewish centers. Ruven's religious father Iakov tried to give his son elements of a Jewish traditional education but, according to his own admission, the son had no interest to this field of knowledge. "… I could not agree with everything my father said. Maybe Palestine was the Jews' land in antiquity, but for me, our house's courtyard was quite enough" – he wrote in his memoirs. (Ruven Evilevich, Ia ne damsia tebe, Drakon!", Ierusalim, 1995, p. 154.) Ruven grew up without knowing the Jewish tradition or even the Jewish everyday language – Yiddish.
In 1941 Evilevich graduated from a school for military engineers in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). On the first day of the war, June 22, 1941 he was sent to the front in Ukraine as the commander of a platoon of field engineers. He experienced the bitterness of retreat in 1941, when the Red Army left district after district to the Germans who were advancing eastward.
In his memoirs, entitled I Will Not Surrender to You, Dragon! (which Evilevich published in 1995 while living in Israel), he recalled an interesting episode from this period.
In September 1941, while serving in the area of Kremenchug, central Ukraine, Evilevich was sent to a military warehouse to get some explosives. Near the warehouse, he encountered a beautiful Jewish girl named Judith from a nearby shtetl, who was desperately trying to evacuate her large family eastward. The staff of the warehouse agreed to lend her a truck only in return for "her body." Indignant, Evilevich decided to help her. He proposed to take her and her family to a railway station in his military truck and a place for her family in an east bound train. The story had a happy ending – Judith's family was taken on by an unscheduled medical train. After that, Ruvim and she lost touch with one another. However, while sitting in the back of the truck in their way to the station, Evilevich and Judith spoke about the meaning of being a Jew, including whether being a Jew contradicted the principles of Soviet internationalism. Evilevich later remarked that this encounter had made him, a Jew who did not know a word of Yiddish and had rejected a traditional education, to think about his Jewish identity for the first time.
Evilevich's military career was short. On December 1, 1941, while he was with his regiment in the area of Belgorod (southern Russia), he was struck by a German hand grenade and lost both his eyesight and his hearing. Evilevich regained consciousness in a Saratov military hospital – everything was completely dark and silent. His hearing partly returned to him during his stay in the hospital, and subsequent surgical operations restored six percent of the sight in one of his eyes.
Nevertheless, Evilevich did not fall into the abyss of despair. He returned to his native Samara and, despite all contrary advice, he entered the local pedagogical institute. After graduation, Evilevich worked in the city's "Palace of Pioneers" – a major children's club, where he headed the group of Red Scouts (an officially sponsored mass children's movement to recover the memory of war heroes whose deeds had remained in obscurity). As the leader of the local Red Scouts and when he spoke in schools and children clubs, in books and articles he published, Evilevich, on principle included heroes of the Jewish origin. Because of this, he sometimes had conflicts with the Soviet ideological authorities in the 1960s and 1970s. For example, in the early 1960s, his scouts found and put in order the grave of Solomon Diamant, a valiant Jewish partisan who was born in Samara and was killed in 1943 while fighting in Ukraine. At the same time, they revived the story of his life. In 1971 Evilevich published a book on the work of his scouts. While living in the Soviet Union, he published seven books, including an autobiographic novel The Sunrise.
In 1981 Evilevich became totally blind. His hearing deteriorated further. Nevertheless, he continued to write and publish books. A journalist, who wrote about him, compared Evilevich to Helen Keller.
In 1990 Evilevich emigrated from the Soviet Union and to Israel. He lives in Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. In Israel, he wrote and published seven books, the same number as in the USSR.