Revusky, Abraham

Revusky, Abraham or Revutsky [Ревуцький, Авраам; Revuc'kyj, Avraam], b 8 February 1889 in Smila, Cherkasy county, Kyiv gubernia, d 8 February 1946 in Yonkers, New York State, USA. Journalist and Zionist leader. His family had a strong connection to Palestine and was involved in the founding of the town of Rehovot. After spending some time in Palestine during his childhood, Revusky returned to the Russian Empire. He pursued his higher education at Odesa University and later at the University of Vienna in Austria. During the First World War he returned to Kyiv to work for the Zionist Poale Zion party and edit its weekly newspaper.

In 1917–18 he was a leader of the Jewish community in Odesa. A leading member of the Poale Zion party, he was chosen as its representative to the Central Rada in 1918. His political engagement reached its peak between January and February 1919 when he was appointed the Minister of Jewish Affairs in the Council of National Ministers of the Ukrainian National Republic. Contrary to widespread beliefs, Revusky’s resignation from his ministerial post was not a response to the escalating anti-Jewish violence of the period. In reality, it was an internal pressure from his own party, Poale Zion, that precipitated his demission. This tension was rooted in a crucial political shift, namely the decision by the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic to form an alliance with the Entente Powers, considered by Revutsky’s party to be ‘imperialist’ entities due to their ongoing war with the Bolshevik Russia.

Following his resignation, Revusky relocated to Palestine in 1919 where he continued to support the efforts of Poale Zion. He worked in Palestine until 1922, when he attended a conference in Danzig and was not allowed to return to Palestine by the British authorities. After an extended stay in Berlin, he emigrated to the United States of America in 1925. There he was active in Zionist politics and the Jewish press. His memoirs of the revolutionary period, In di Shvere Teg oyf Ukraine (In the Difficult Days of Ukraine), were published in 1924. They were later translated into English and published in Canada in 1998 under the title Wrenching Times in Ukraine: Memoirs of a Minister for Jewish Affairs.

Goldelman, Solomon I. Jewish National Autonomy in Ukraine, 1917–1920 (Chicago 1968)
Abramson, Henry. ‘Jewish Representation in the Independent Ukrainian Governments of 1917–1920’, Slavic Review 50 no. 3 (1991)
Rabinovitch, Simon. “Jewish-Ukrainian-Soviet Relations during the Civil War and the Second Thoughts of a Minister for Jewish Affairs.” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 17 no. 3 (2017)

Larysa Bilous

[This article was updated in 2023.]

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