Israeli folklorist and ethnomusicologist, teacher and preserver of Ladino language and culture. Born, Milan, Italy, 1939 to a Sephardic family.
Her mother Diana Hadjes and father Alfredo were from Aydin, Turkey. She studied at the Jewish Community School and the University in Milan. Married Aharon Cohen, now the Director General of The National Authority for Ladino and its Culture, in 1960.
She received a B.A. in Italian Literature, Judeo-Spanish and Folklore in 1987 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 1974-1994 made a living as a records specialist at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. Since 1996 has been on the faculty of Ben Gurion University in the Negev as a Judeo-Spanish language instructor, and also teaches at Midreshet Amalia Jerusalem (since 1991). Since 1998 she has taught a course for Ladino Teachers, organized by The National Authority for Ladino and its Culture, in Jerusalem.
Mathilda has been instrumental in bringing Sephardic music and tales to wide audiences in Israel through radio, through appearances in concerts and events, and through the establishment of Judeo-Spanish clubs. She writes for the Judeo-Spanish Review Aki Yerushalayim and Review Los Muestros in Brussels. In addition to many publications and recordings of folk tales,courses in Ladino language and a Ladino dictionary, Matilda has also published numerous Judeo-Spanish anthologies of folk songs, including Vin kantaremos, (Collection of Judeo-Spanish traditional Songs) Koleksin de kantes djudeo-espanyoles, Edisin de la Autora, Yerushalyim, 1993; and CDs Matilda Koen-Sarano & Hayim Tsur, Nostalja, kantigas nuevas djudeo-espanyolas, (New Judeo-Spanish Songs), Hataklit, Ramat-Gan, 1995 and Matilda Koen-Sarano & Hayim Tsur, Sefarads de dor en dor, (The Musical Comedy “Sepharadis from generation to generation – Judeo-Spanish Songs.) Musical Comedy in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish [Ladino] Songs), Hataklit, Ramat-Gan, 1999.