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Cohen - appropriate first name?

83 replies

Happygolucky233 · 20/01/2023 20:14

Love the sound and look of Cohen as a name. A quick google search suggests it’s a popular jewish surname.

Would it be disrespectful or have any negative connotations if we use Cohen as a first name, especially when we are not Jewish?

I’m not concerned about it being a surname - just like Taylor, Harvey, Mason etc - but wouldn’t want to offend.

OP posts:
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Akessler · 10/01/2024 02:03

This! And Cohen doesn’t even equate to a synonym for G_d. People are being ridiculously possessive about this name.

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peaceinourtime · 10/01/2024 10:15

Cohen is nice name. It is v common Jewish name. It will be fine.

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ZoyaTheDestroyer · 10/01/2024 10:19

Akessler · 10/01/2024 01:58

This is one of the most ridiculous debates I’ve ever heard of. I’m Jewish, and I don’t understand this weird Jewish obsession with (and misconception of) the name “Cohen”.  Yes, some “Kohanim” have a special ancient history. Also, people here are over generalizing, and it’s the 21st century 

The derivative of “Cohen” is “Kohanim”, which refers to the ENTIRE Jewish nation in the Book of Exodus. “Kohen” is also the Hebrew word for "priest” in the Aaron  patriarchal lineage. BUT “Kohen” actually refers to Jewish AND pagan priests in the Hebrew Bible. And no, it’s not the same as naming your child “Priest” in America because it’s literally a foreign word. And an ancient word. And it’s spelled differently.  Kohen can also refer to other things, like “friend” or even “goose” in archaic languages like Gaelic.

Modern day kohanim are not as revered as in ancient (archaic) times (with the exception that kohanim have remained the primary religious leaders in the Samaritan community - still not the same as the name “Cohen”). Notably, its last name derivative “Cohen” is not limited to these descendants. Many people with the last name Cohen (or a variation, like Kahn) are not only NOT of kohanim descent, they’re not even Jewish. 

But Cohen a very common last name, like Smith. So I would equate it more to naming your kid “Smith”.  That wouldn’t be a big deal outside the US, but in the US people might be confused. In Israel, a first name of Cohen will likely cause similar “last name as a first name” confusion like Smith would here. Unless more ppl take up the name as a first name. :) But again, that’s not a huge deal. 

So get over it people. Last names are all over that place as first names now. Cohen isn’t more sacred than any other, and I think it’s a respectful homage to biblical history as well as Jewish people and the land of Israel.  Afraid to use the name because of antisemitism? Well, you’re just part of the problem then. 

I think there is a huge difference between a person with detailed knowledge and understanding of the history of the Kohanim evaluating the use of the name within its cultural context and deciding that it is fine, and a person who is totally ignorant of its meaning or significance picking Cohen from a baby names list because they like the sound of it.

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ZoyaTheDestroyer · 10/01/2024 10:44

Just one other thing @Akessler - I was the person who mentioned anti-semitism, and this is what I said:

“It is inappropriate to name a non-Jewish child Cohen because to do so is to take a fundamental symbol of ancient Jewish ancestry and to give it to a child who will happily go about their life without experiencing any of the anti-semitism that a Jewish child with the surname Cohen is very likely to encounter at some point or another.”

Please could you tell me how this paragraph makes me part of the problem? Genuine question.

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Dillane · 10/01/2024 10:51

It’s a great name, use it if you love it, all names have significance to someone and you can’t let that have any bearing on what you call your child, or you wouldn’t be able to use any name.

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pinkypramiss · 10/01/2024 12:11

It's a bit on the grey side. Cohen is becoming increasingly popular as a given name since we've entered the era of "anything goes" however so, rest assured that you won't be alone in choosing this name.

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Whataretheodds · 10/01/2024 12:14

browlow · 21/01/2023 01:07

i think it is fine to use. People in South america are called Jesus, We know Mohammed is popular, God knows the folk called Krishna or Ram.

Jesus is popular among Latinx Catholics.
Muhammad is popular among Muslims.

It's not the same at all!

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SeatonCarew · 10/01/2024 12:22

I do not think it is fair to saddle a child with a name you know is potentially controversial and may cause them difficulties in life. You will not have to deal with it ultimately, they will. Why would a loving parent do that?

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