Simcha Jacobovici (/ˈsɪmxə jəˈkoʊboʊvɪtʃ/, born April 4, 1953, Petah Tikva, Israel) is an Israeli-Canadian film director, producer, freelance journalist, and writer.
His parents were from Iași, Romania. Simcha Jacobovici earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science (with honors) from McGill University and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Toronto. He is an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Huntington University, an affiliate of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. Jacobovici has been a guest lecturer at numerous conferences and on various campuses including Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, McGill University, UCLA and York University. He is married and the father of five children.
Jacobovici is an Emmy winner for Outstanding Investigative Journalism and a New York Times bestselling author. l His filmmaking awards also include a certificate of Special Merit from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a Gold Medal from the International Documentary Festival of Nyon, two US CableACE Awards, a Royal Television Society Award, two Gemini awards, an Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award, two Gold Dolphins from the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards, a Jack R. Howard Award from the Scripps Howard Awards for In-Depth National and International Coverage, the Norman Bethune Award from the Canadian Medical Association for Excellence in International Health Reporting and, from the Overseas Press Club of America, two Edward R. Murrow Awards and a Carl Spielvogel Award.
In 2017, he was awarded the Gordon Sinclair Award, Canada's highest achievement in Broadcast Journalism, from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
As an early advocate of airlifting Ethiopian Jews to Israel, he wrote an op-ed piece on the subject for New York Times and made a documentary, Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews (1983).
His film Tales from the Organ Trade (2013), co-produced and directed by his associate Ric Esther Bienstock, explored the sale of kidneys.
Over the past decades, Jacobovici has engaged in what he calls "investigative archaeology". His most controversial claim is the identification of a tomb in Jerusalem as that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. The tomb was discovered in the Talpiot neighbourhood. In 2012, he investigated a Second Temple-era burial cave in Armon Hanatziv with a robotic arm that had a camera. He believes the cave may be the burial site of disciples of Jesus.
Jacobovici hosted three seasons of The Naked Archaeologist on VisionTV in Canada and The History Channel in the United States. In 2013, the series began to be broadcast on the Israel Broadcast Authority (IBA) Channel 1.
Jacobovici has written for The New York Times , International Herald Tribune, The Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Times and other newspapers. He blogs on SimchaJTV, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post. He occasionally writes for the Jerusalem Post.
He has been interviewed on numerous television shows like Anderson Cooper 360, Larry King Live,The Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC Today Show and ABC Nightline.
His new book with Professor Barrie Wilson, The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text That Reveals Jesus' Marriage to Mary the Magdalene, was published in November 2014 (Pegasus in the US and HarperCollins in Canada).
Jacobovici is also the co-author of two e-books; "Michelangelo's Angels and Demons" and "The James Revelation", published by Zoomerbooks, as a companion to his television series "Biblical Conspiracies".
In the 1983 documentary Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews, Jacobovici tells the story of Ethiopian Jews, also called Falasha (strangers) and properly known as Beta Israel. According to the documentary, the group was conquered by neighbouring tribes in the 17th century and suffered persecution.
After the documentary, during the Israeli Operation Moses (Hebrew: מִבְצָע מֹשֶׁה, Mivtza Moshe), the Falasha were evacuated from Sudan during a famine in 1984 and airlifted to Israel.
In the 1996 documentary, Jacobovici studies the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico and tiny populations of Jewish descendants in Spain and Portugal, known as nuevos Cristianos ("new Christians"). He explores the Jewish ancestry of the New Mexican Hispanic families now living in New Mexico and finds that many of them have always been aware of their Jewish heritage.
In the 2002 documentary, directed by Jacobovici, tells the story of MV Struma, a small ship chartered to carry Jewish refugees from Axis-allied Romania to Mandatory Palestine during World War II. Ten people were let off the ship in Istanbul, including a woman who had just had a miscarriage, and one man who was the representative of the Mobil Oil Company in Romania and was helped by Mobil's representative in Turkey, Vehbi Koc. Koc asked the favour of the Istanbul Chief of Police, Sabri Caglayangil, who later became a Minister of the Interior. On February 23, 1942, with her engine inoperable and her refugee passengers aboard, Turkish authorities towed Struma from Istanbul Harbour through the Bosphorus back to the Black Sea, where they set her adrift without food, water or fuel. Within hours, on the morning of February 24, she was torpedoed and sunk by the Soviet submarine Shch-213, killing at least 768 men, women and children and possibly as many as 791, 785 of whom were Jews.
The documentary won the Audience Award at the Portland International Film Festival for best documentary.
In the 2003 wide-ranging documentary, Jacobovici goes on a worldwide search for the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and states that there are actually only nine since the remnant of the tribe of Dan was confirmed to be the Beta Israel of Ethiopia. Travelling from western Europe to China and India , Jacobovici finds tantalizing evidence that the "lost tribes" are, like the tribe of Dan, not really lost. The tribe of Dan is the only original tribe of Israel not to be included in the Book of Revelation's list of tribes that are sealed. No mention is made of why it is excluded.
The 2004 documentary, produced by Jacobovici and directed by Tim Wolochatiuk, is about Israeli victims of terrorism struggling to cope in the aftermath of the August 2001 Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The 2006 History Channel documentary was created by Jacobovici and the producer/director James Cameron. It explores evidence for the biblical account of the Exodus. Its claims and methods were widely criticized by Biblical scholars and by mainstream scientists.
Jacobovici suggests that the Exodus took place around 1500 BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Ahmose I, and that it coincided with the Minoan eruption. In the documentary, the biblical plagues of Egypt are explained as having resulted from that eruption and a related limnic eruption in the Nile Delta. While much of Jacobovici's archaeological evidence for the Exodus comes from Egypt, some comes from Mycenae on Mainland Greece, such as a gold ornament that somewhat resembles the Ark of the Covenant.
The documentary makes extensive use of computer animation and visual effects made by Gravity Visual Effects, Inc. It runs for 90 min and was first aired in Canada on April 16 (Easter Day), 2006 (Discovery Channel Canada). It was shown in the United States on August 20, 2006 (History Channel US), United Kingdom on December 23, 2006 (Discovery Channel UK) and Spain on December 25, 2006 (Cuatro).
The documentary was co-produced and first broadcast on the Discovery Channel and Vision TV in Canada on March 4, 2007, covering the discovery of the Talpiot Tomb. It was directed by Jacobovici and produced by Felix Golubev and Ric Esther Bienstock, and James Cameron served as executive producer. It was released in conjunction with a book on the same subject, The Jesus Family Tomb, issued in late February 2007 and co-authored by Jacobovici and Charles R. Pellegrino. The documentary and book has claims that are disputed by most archaeologists and theologians fields as well as most linguistic and biblical scholars.
The television show was produced for VisionTV in Canada and History International in the US and was hosted and prepared by Jacobovici and Avri Gilad. The show ultimately reviewed biblical stories and then tried to find proof for them by exploring the Holy Land looking for archaeological evidence, making personal inferences and deductions and interviewing scholars and experts. After its original run on VisionTV, it was picked up in the U.S. by The History Channel and its sister network, History International.
The episode "A Nabatean by Any Other Name" won the Special Jury Prize at the 8th International Archaeological Film Festival in Brussels.
Jacobovici was involved as executive producer in the production of a documentary that was shown in March 2010 on the National Geographic Channel. He claimed that Atlantis had been found in Spain, and he said that evidence found by University of Hartford Professor Richard Freund included the unearthed emblem of Atlantis and that "Tarshish is Atlantis itself".
In 2016, Jacobovici directed a documentary on Atlantis for National Geographic Channel; its executive producer was James Cameron. Shot in several places in the Mediterranean (Greece, Sardinia, Malta, Santorini) such as in Spain (Cádiz, Huelva, Sevilla, Jaén, Ciudad Real, Badajoz and other undersea places in the Gulf of Cádiz) and the Azores. It premiered on January 29, 2017 on National Geographic Channel (US) and at National Geographic Spain as "El Resurgir de la Atlántida" on March 5, 2017.