Simcha Jacobovici

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Simcha Jacobovici
Born (1953-04-04) April 4, 1953 (age 67)
NationalityCanadian / Israeli
EducationB.A., McGill University
M.A., University of Toronto
OccupationFilm director, producer, journalist, writer

Simcha Jacobovici (/ˈsɪmxə jəˈkbvɪ/; born April 4, 1953, in Petah Tikva, Israel) is an Israeli-Canadian multi award-winning film director, producer, freelance journalist, and New York Times bestselling author.


Simcha Jacobovici's parents were from Iași, Romania.[1] He was born April 4, 1953, in Petach Tikvah, Israel. In 1962, the family relocated to Canada.

He 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. As of 2015 he was an adjunct professor of religious studies at Huntington University,[2] in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. He is married and the father of five children.

Film career[edit]

Jacobovici is a three-time Emmy winner for Outstanding Investigative Journalism[3][4] and a New York Times bestselling author.[5] 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,[6][7] 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,[8][9] a Jack R. Howard Award from the Scripps Howard Awards for In-Depth National and International Coverage,[10] the Norman Bethune Award from the Canadian Medical Association for Excellence in International Health Reporting[11] 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,[12] 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[13][14][15][16] and made a documentary, Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews (1983).[17]

His film on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Deadly Currents (1991),[18] won the Genie Award for Best Documentary[19] and was the runner-up for the Peace Prize at the 1991 Berlin Film Festival.[20]

Jacobovici is presently (January 2020) in production as Series Director/Showrunner on a six-part series on the transatlantic slave trade, "Enslaved: The Slave Trade As Told From the Ocean Floor" (Epix/MGM, CBC, Fremantle Media). The series is hosted and co-executive produced by Samuel L Jackson.

Jacobovici has coproduced three documentaries with James Cameron (The Exodus Decoded, The Lost Tomb of Jesus and Atlantis Rising).


Several of Jacobovici's films have sparked controversies. The 1994 film, The Plague Monkeys resulted in the closure of a level 4 lab in Toronto, Canada. James, Brother of Jesus highlighted an ossuary in the private collection of an Israeli antiquities collector, Oded Golan. Golan was accused of forging part of the inscription on a 2,000-year-old bone box/ossuary. Jacobovici and Hershel Shanks, the now-retired editor of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), stood by their story. In 2012, after 7 years in an Israeli court, Golan was exonerated.[21] The claims made in The Lost Tomb of Jesus are still being debated by scholars.[22]

Investigative archaeology[edit]

Over the past decades, Jacobovici has engaged in what he calls "investigative archaeology".[23] 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.[24] 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.[25]

Jacobovici hosted three seasons of The Naked Archaeologist on VisionTV in Canada[26][27] 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,[28] The Times of Israel[29] and The Huffington Post.[30] 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.


  • Jacobovici, Simcha; Pellegrino, Charles (March 2007). The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History. New York: HarperLuxe. ISBN 978-0-06-125299-0.
  • Jacobovici, Simcha; Tabor, James D. (January 2012). The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-5040-2.
  • Jacobovici, Simcha; Wilson, Barrie (November 2014). The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus' Marriage to Mary the Magdalene. New York: Pegasus. ISBN 978-1605986104.

Jacobovici is also the co-author of two e-books; "Michelangelo's Angels and Demons"[31] and "The James Revelation",[32] published by Zoomerbooks, as a companion to his television series "Biblical Conspiracies".



  • Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews (1983)
  • Deadly Currents (1991)
  • Bones of Contention (1993)
  • Expulsion and Memory: Descendants of the Hidden Jews (1996)
  • Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies & the American Dream (1997)
  • Quest for the Lost Tribes (1998)
  • The Struma (2001)
  • James, Brother of Jesus (2003)
  • The Exodus Decoded (2005)
  • The Naked Archaeologist (2006–2010)
  • Charging the Rhino (2007)
  • The Lost Tomb of Jesus (2007)
  • Secrets of Christianity/Decoding the Ancients (2010)
  • The Jesus Discovery/The Resurrection Tomb Mystery (2012)
  • Bride of God (Science Channel/VisionTV, 2014)
  • Atlantis Rising (National Geographic/Discovery, 2017)


  • AIDS in Africa (1990)
  • Bones of Contention (1993)
  • The Plague Monkeys (1994)
  • Ebola: Inside an Outbreak/The Plague Fighters (1996)
  • The Selling of Innocents (1996)
  • Jesus in Russia: An American Holy War (1996)
  • Frozen Hearts (1999)
  • Pandemic: Case of the Killer Flu (1999)
  • Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour (2000)
  • Tell It Like It Is (2003/04)
  • Impact of Terror (2004)
  • Sex Slaves/The Real Sex Traffic (2005)
  • Yummy Mummy (2005)
  • Living in the Time of Jesus (2010)
  • Tales from the Organ Trade (2013)

Selected awards[edit]

  • 2017 Gordon Sinclair Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television[12]
  • 2015 Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program from the Canadian Screen Awards for the documentary "Tales from the Organ Trade".[33]
  • 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club of America for the documentary "Tales from the Organ Trade".
  • 2014 Jack R. Howard Award for Television/Cable In-Depth National and International Coverage from the Scripps Howard Award for the documentary "Tales from the Organ Trade".
  • 2014 Norman Bethune Award for Excellence in International Health Reporting from the Canadian Medical Association Media Awards for Health Reporting for the documentary "Tales from the Organ Trade".
  • 2013 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards Gold Dolphin in the category of "Science & Knowledge" for the documentary "Resurrection Tomb Mystery" (also released as The Jesus Discovery).[34]
  • 2013 Raven Award for Best Feature Documentary from the Southern Utah International Documentary Film Festival for the documentary "Tales from the Organ Trade".[35]
  • 2013 Banff World Media Festival Rockie Award in the category of "Social & Humanitarian Documentaries" for the documentary "The Age of Anxiety".[36]
  • 2013 New York Festivals Gold World Medal in the category of "Best Innovation" for the documentary "Resurrection Tomb Mystery" (also released as The Jesus Discovery).[37]
  • 2010 CINE Golden Eagle Award in the "History" category for the documentary "Beasts of the Bible".[38]
  • 2010 CINE Golden Eagle Award in the "Science & Technology" category for the documentary "Science of the Soul".[38]
  • 2010 Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Award in the "Television, Documentary" category for the documentary "Science of the Soul".[39]
  • 2006 Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow Award awarded to Ric Esther Bienstock, Felix Golubev, Simcha Jacobovici, David Fanning, and Ken Dornstein for 2005 documentary by Ric Esther Bienstock created in association with CBC, Channel 4 and Canal D, in the category of "Best TV interpretation or documentary on international affairs" for their PBS Frontline documentary "Sex Slaves."[40]
  • 2006 UK Royal Television Society Award awarded to Ric Esther Bienstock, Felix Golubev, Simcha Jacobovici, David Fanning, and Ken Dornstein for 2005 documentary by Ric Esther Bienstock created in association with CBC, Channel 4 and Canal D, for their PBS Frontline documentary "Sex Slaves."[citation needed][41]
  • 2004 Overseas Press Club Carl Spielvogel Award[42] awarded to Tim Wolochatiuk, Simcha Jacobovici, Ric Esther Bienstock, Jennifer Hyde, and Sid Bedigfield for 2003 documentary by produced by Associated Producers for CNN and CNBC in the category of "Best international reporting in the broadcast media showing a concern for the human condition" for their documentary "CNN Presents: Impact of Terror.[43][44]
  • 1997 Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television Gemini Award in category of "Best Science Documentary" for the documentary "Ebola: Inside an Outbreak" (released internationally as Plague Fighters) for PBS’ NOVA, Channel 4 and the CBC, written and directed by Ric Esther Bienstock[45] and produced by Simcha Jacobovici, Elliott Halpern, and Ric Esther Bienstock for Associated Producers, Ltd.[46][citation needed][47]
  • 1997 Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism for the documentary "Ebola: Inside an Outbreak" (released internationally as Plague Fighters) for PBS’ NOVA, Channel 4 and the CBC, written and directed by Ric Esther Bienstock and produced by Simcha Jacobovici, Elliott Halpern, and Ric Esther Bienstock for Associated Producers, Ltd.[46][47]
  • 1996 News and Documentary Emmy Award in category of "Outstanding Investigative Journalism" for the documentary "The Selling of Innocents".
  • 1992 National Academy of Cable Programming CableACE Award for the documentary Deadly Currents produced in association with City TV.

Selected documentaries and television programs[edit]

Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews[edit]

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 (Hebrewמִבְצָע מֹשֶׁה‎, Mivtza Moshe), the Falasha were evacuated from Sudan during a famine in 1984 and airlifted to Israel.

Expulsion & Memory: Descendants of the Hidden Jews[edit]

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.[48]

The Struma[edit]

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,[49] 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.[citation needed] 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,[50] 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.[50]

The documentary won the Audience Award at the Portland International Film Festival for best documentary.

Quest for the Lost Tribes[edit]

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[citation needed] 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.

Impact of Terror[edit]

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 Exodus Decoded[edit]

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.[51][52][53][54]

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), UK on December 23, 2006 (Discovery Channel UK) and Spain on December 25, 2006 (Cuatro).

The Lost Tomb of Jesus[edit]

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 some archaeologists and theologians fields as well as some linguistic and biblical scholars.

The Naked Archaeologist[edit]

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.[55]

Finding Atlantis[edit]

Jacobovici was involved as executive producer[56] 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".[57]

Atlantis Rising[edit]

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)[58] and at National Geographic Spain as "El Resurgir de la Atlántida" on March 5, 2017.[59]


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External links[edit]