Simcha Jacobovici - Holy Journalism!

Who comes to mind when a McGill University alumni generates a tsunami of media debate after claiming he has found the tomb of Jesus? The answer is Israeli-born Canadian Simcha Jacobovici, three-time Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker and New York Times best-selling author.

Acclaimed by the Ryerson Review of Journalism as “Canada’s Top Documentary Filmmaker,” Jacobovici gets a great sense of excitement and purpose applying his investigative journalistic skills to biblical archaeology. He can be seen uncovering and sharing his findings on reruns of Canada’s Vision TV hit show The Naked Archeologist and on recent documentaries The Lost Tomb of Jesus and The Exodus Decoded, both collaboratively produced with Avatar director/producer James Cameron. “What a great pleasure it is when you get paid to do what you love,” says Jacobovici. “Contextualizing something physical that came in contact with the bible and using the tools of investigative journalism to do so is a thrill.”

Jacobovici has become an internationally recognized expert in “decoding” the ancient past and has appeared on numerous television shows, including Anderson Cooper 360°, Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show and NBC Today. “We do a lot on the Hebrew bible but also on the Christian Gospels, looking at this material from a historical point of view, not a theological one. What we do is uncover the science and archeology behind the biblical narratives,” says Jacobovici.

For over ten years, Jacobovici, of Jewish Modern Orthodox faith, has been sparking heated scientific and academic debates for multiple archeological claims. He has argued that he has located the exact coordinates that the book of Exodus provides for the parting of the sea, claims to have identified the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, and even argues that two Roman nails found in the tomb of the high priest Caiaphas are the very nails of Jesus’ crucifixion. “These claims seem fantastic if we mythologize historical events. My goal is to create a good archeological and journalistic case so that scientists can further investigate,” he argues. Simcha was born on April 4, 1953 to Romanian Jewish parents. His late father, Joseph, and mother, Ida, are Holocaust survivors. At the age of 9, he moved with his parents and sister to Montreal, where his father had been offered an engineering position. Jacobovici earned his Bachelor of Arts from McGill University with a degree in philosophy and politics in 1974. After a year of volunteering in the Israeli Army, he got his Masters in International Relations at the University of Toronto, where he completed all but his dissertation for a Ph.D.

An activist with deep-rooted ties to Israel, Simcha was eager to raise awareness about the oppression of Ethiopian Jews. In the late 1970s, he wrote various articles published by The New York Times on Ethiopian Jewry and soon after he teamed up with Peter Raymont, former National Film Board of Canada documentary-maker, to produce his first film, Falasha: Exile Of The Black Jews, which Jacobovici also directed. Jacobovici became a key player in the advocacy campaign to get the Ethiopian Jews out of Ethiopia. Importantly, his first documentary served as the beginning of a newfound career combining his passion for politics, journalism, Jewish advocacy and travel.

Since then, Jacobovici has garnered three Emmys for “Outstanding Investigative Journalism,” a certificate of Special Merit from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles (the Oscars), two Gemini awards, and a Gold Medal from the International Documentary Festival of Nyon. He has produced programming for virtually every major broadcaster in the world, including CBC, Vision, NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic Channel, and BBC.

Most recently, Simcha worked with Montreal-born filmmaker Ric Esther Bienstock to produce the internationally acclaimed Tales from the Organ Trade, the first documentary film tracking all participants in a single kidney trafficking scheme while exploring “the moral ambiguity” surrounding the ethics of kidney transplants.

Jacobovici’s first book, The Jesus Family Tomb, has been translated into more than 16 languages and is an international best seller. His latest book, The Lost Gospel: the Secret Marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is due to come out in November 2014. Jacobovici and his wife, Nicole, have been married for over 23 years and have five children. He commutes between his home in Israel and his office in downtown Toronto. In a new venture, Simcha will be offering his unique perspective on archaeology as part of guided tours of Israel. The first tour will take place in September 2014. It seems Simcha is just getting his second wind. Follow him at Simcha J TV.

by Leslie Perez @LesliePerezPR | April 28, 2014

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