Jewish BookFest season opens
Photo: Courtesy Aaron Family JCC
Daniel Silva, a favorite of audiences of the J’s 2023-2024 Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest who was here last summer, returns to the Aaron Family JCC on July 25, 2023.

Daniel Silva returns July 25

By Deb Silverthorn

Summertime means “Silva time” — Daniel Silva time. Starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, Silva will open the J’s 2023-2024 Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest with “The Collector.” Silva will be interviewed by Nancy Cohen Israel. Opening night is presented by the Aaron Family JCC and Central Market.

“Daniel Silva is always a huge draw and we’re so happy for his return. A conversation between him and Nancy — our hometown art history hero — will be educational and entertaining,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, Aaron Family JCC director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living and BookFest producer. Crane organizes BookFest each year with Marcy Helfand, event chair, and a steadfast committee.

“I’ve read every Daniel Silva book. It’s a phenomenal honor to share the stage with him,” said Israel, who earned a B.A. in humanities, with a concentration in late medieval art and literature, from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in art history with a focus on Renaissance painting from The George Washington University. Israel’s interest in Dutch 17th-century painting led her to also study at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Photo: Courtesy Ilana Paikoff/Temple Emanu-El
In December 2022, as part of Temple Emanu-El’s Creations TE 150 celebrations, Nancy Cohen Israel, left, manager of Docent Programs at The Meadows Museum, led a private tour of the museum’s Dali/Vermeer: A Dialogue exhibit.

Israel is currently the manager of Docent Programs at The Meadows Museum and a regular contributor to Patron magazine; her 30-year career has spanned the gamut of the art world. Her credentials in this field span roles as a gallery director, lecturer, curator, juror and the owner of the art education company Art à la Carte.

Born in Montreal and raised in Dallas, Israel is the daughter of Paul and the late Barbara Bierbrier. Israel was raised at Temple Shalom and graduated from J.J. Pearce High School. For the past 30 years, she has been a member of Temple Emanu-El, where she now attends with her husband Solomon and daughter Sarina.

“As a young child, I wanted to be an archeologist but, after years of visiting art museums with my parents, I had an epiphany while seeing an exhibition of the Fabergé Egg Collection at the Kimbell Art Museum [in Fort Worth]. It was there that I knew I wanted to become an art historian,” she said. “Daniel Silva’s works are a confluence of art history, espionage and Israeli ingenuity, which are among my favorite topics. The fact that Vermeer, one of my favorite artists, plays a starring role in ‘The Collector’ makes it even better.”

“The Collector” describes Gabriel Allon joining forces with a brilliant and beautiful master-thief to track down the world’s most valuable missing painting.

Cover Art: David Litman and Liubomir Paut-Fluerasu
Daniel Silva’s “The Collector”

“‘The Collector’ deals with perhaps the most pressing and dangerous issue of our time but it begins when Gabriel undertakes a search for the world’s most valuable missing painting,” said Silva. “I think Gabriel’s essential appeal is that he’s not just a brilliant intelligence operative but also one of the world’s finest art restorers. That unique combination of attributes allows me to craft my stories in a way that makes them different.

“Gabriel has changed a great deal as he’s gotten older and made peace with his terrible past. His wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humor tends to reveal itself when least expected. There were points during the editing process, when my wife and I read the book aloud, that we were both incapacitated with laughter,” the author added.

Allon is now retired as the chief of Israeli intelligence and living in Venice full-time; he and his family live in a palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal. He is brought in to investigate the murder of a South African shipping tycoon and art collector whose body is discovered in a secret vault containing an empty frame and stretcher matching the dimensions of Johannes Vermeer’s “The Concert” stolen during the 1990 art heist at the Gardner Museum.

Silva, as he does often, blends fact and fiction with “The Collector” being released in a year when Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum has the largest-ever exhibition of Vermeer’s work.

“The thieves and the larger criminal network that undoubtedly was behind them did more than steal a few paintings,” Silva said of those who took “The Concert” as well as Rembrandt’s “A Lady and Gentleman in Black” and “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and Edouard Manet’s “Chez Tortoni.” “They robbed generations of the ability to see the works in person, to experience their beauty, to feel their emotion and power.”

In typical Silva fashion, what begins as a quest by Allon to find the missing painting becomes a race against time to stop an attack that could ignite a nuclear conflict between Russia and the West.

Silva, whose 1997 release “The Unlikely Spy” was the first of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, has had 26 books — 23 following art restorer and Mossad agent Gabriel Allon — published in more than 30 countries. The Florida resident, who serves on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, is married to Jamie Gangel, CNN special correspondent; they have two children.

BookFest ‘23-‘24 presentations continue with Moshe Basson’s “The Eucalyptus,” Nancy Churnin’s “Counting on Shabbat,” Benji Lovitt’s “Israel 201,” Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “The World A Family History of Humanity,” Dr. David Patterson’s “Eighteen Words to Sustain a Life: A Jewish Father’s Ethical Will,” Joe Posnanski’s “Why We Love Baseball,” Elizabeth Silver’s “The Majority” and Jenny Taitz’s “Stress Resets.”

For BookFest details, schedule and registration information, visit To learn more about Nancy Cohen Israel’s work, visit

  • Post category:News
  • Post comments:0 Comments

Leave a Reply