Friends of A Wider Bridge, is a special video series in which American LGBT people reflect on their connection to Israel. Los Angeles Based musician Matthew Cohen was one of the participants on A Wider Bridge’s 2014 Israel Mission in October 2014. During his stay in Tel Aviv Matthew shared with us his coming out story, and his Israel story.
“I love traveling, it’s my most favorite thing in the whole world,” Matt Cohen says is this special video interview, “also growing up Jewish, I remember my great-grandmother saying ‘you need to go to Israel’ – and thirty eight years later I still hadn’t. When I received the information about A Wider Bridge’s Mission, I thought ‘oh, it’s an LGBT trip, what a wonderful context to go to Israel.’ It was an important trip for me and I didn’t want to just go to Israel. I wanted to learn about the country and about the culture. Before I went on the trip I found a picture of my great-grandmother and me and I put it in my suitcase, so she’s with me for the entire trip.”
Cohen was raised Jewish, went to temple as a kid and was Bar Mitzvah’d, but currently doesn’t practice. “I had a very fortunate path,” he says, “liberal family, arts high school, in high school I knew I kind of liked guys, and then I had a few girls who wanted to go out with me and I didn’t want to. I awkwardly tried, but almost as an act of fairness and duty I came out to them, maybe in my Junior year, it was like ‘I’m not dating you because I’m gay’.”
Coming out to his family was rather easy for Matt. “I came out to my mother in her bedroom, and she was like ‘I’m gonna go and tell Lou,’ who was my step father,” he recalls. “That’s what happened. And then I told my grandmother, and my father, and they all were like ‘great, go enjoy your life. Just be careful.’ And I think it’s good advice for anyone..”
“When I moved to LA I got in touch with the gay and lesbian temple, one of the two. I just emailed blindly to BCC and the cantor there, Juval, wrote me right back, I told him that if they needed me to write music for a service or to play, I wanted to sort of get involved as much as I could in this new city. Especially because Los Angeles is so far spread, it’s very lonely and isolating and I wanted to get involved as much as I can.”