Raphael Abulafiah was born in Rishon Lezion. He got his education in the elementary school of "Kol Israel Haverim" and in the French high school in Jaffa. He was orphaned from his father at the age of 16. Being the first born child, he went immediately to work.
During the years 1911-1914, he served as a French and Arabic teacher in Ness Ziona. At the outbreak of World War I (1914), he returned to Tel Aviv and was the first manager of the Post Office there. He was among the founders and – the first members of the "Maccabi" association in Israel. Later, in order to escape the Turkish military service, he went to Egypt, where he volunteered to the "Muleteers" regiment, founded by Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor. In his office as a regimental sergeant-major he was sent to Gallipoli, where he was wounded, and then returned to Alexandria for healing purposes. After his recovery he had helped the "Nili" people who arrived in Egypt and more than once transferred for them in secret to Eretz Israel, weapons, medicines, gold and cages of pigeons.
After the war he returned to the Eretz Israel. In 1933, he purchased a printing press in Tel Aviv and had published the first economic newspaper in the country, the first illustrated weekly magazine "Kol Noa" the and a monthly magazine "The Free Mason" edited by Haim Harari. For years he headed the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem' "Freemasons' " Chambers. During his trips abroad, he created friendly relations with most of the movement's chambers in Europe.
In the year 1940, he settled in Jerusalem where he ran the hospital "Misgav Ladach". During the siege on Jerusalem (1948), he served as a liaison person with the besieged in the Old City. He was responsible on behalf of the "Situation Committee" for the supply of food for the besieged and managed to convey weapons to the defenders of the Old City. After the surrender of the Old City he was appointed by the military governor of Jerusalem to chair the Health and Social Work Committees of the city. In recognition of his activities for Jerusalem he was granted with the title "Yakir Yerushalayim". He was one of the founders of "Avichail", a veteran's village, and served as its manager.