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  1. #46
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    182
    Hey just a quick question... I am sure this has been asked before but the other threads on this name are really long and I don't have the time to go through and look...

    Is it still offensive if it is spelled differently? Like Coen or Cohan or Kohen? I'd really like to hear some responses from someone who is Jewish

    If not, it seems like that could be a good compromise since I will admit it is a very handsome name.
    ~Beautiful son Leo Alexander born 2012~

    Girls: Evangeline~Penelope~Emmeline~Margot~Caroline~Augus ta

    Boys: Oliver~Everett~Henry~Leo~Sebastian~Felix~Arthur

  2. #48
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    18
    I wouldn't immediately associate Coen with Cohen. In Hebrew, it's missing one of the three letters, and I know it has meanings outside of the Jewish context. Kohen is just another transliteration of Cohen, and would read the same.
    Name-researcher inside a Greco-Roman framework AKA etymologies-R-US, trying to resurrect a few ancient praenomena and some not-so-ancient favorites, such as:
    Ira - Gnaeus - Avner - Bayard - Berenike - Faust
    Furmom to Euryale and Tiberius.

  3. #50
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    PA, USA
    Posts
    548
    @onomast: Thank you, your comparisons helped me to realize how offensive the name feels to Jewish people. However, while I understand why Christians would be extremely offended by artwork titled "piss Christ," I'm still having a hard time understanding why someone naming their child Cohen would be offensive to Jews. I've read posts by others explaining how the term cohen is used in the Jewish religion, and I'm not trying to be argumentative at all, I just truly don't understand. Is it that the use of it as a first name waters down the significance of the title? Or something else? Or is it just my destiny as a non-Jew to never be able to fully comprehend? :P

    Mama to Quentin Charles, born July 4!

    Russell Theodore || ??
    Catherine Violet || Ava Kathleen

  4. #52
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    18
    Hi LeahMarie! Thanks for the question. I'm not a student of the Talmud, but I'll answer as well as I can.

    "Kohen" is not just a title and not just a group of people. In Biblical times, the honor conveyed when the tribe of Levi was chosen to be the kohanim was so great that they received it instead of receiving land in Israel. Using a Christian translation (NIV), Joshua 18:7: "The Levites, however, do not get a portion among you, because the priestly service of the LORD is their inheritance." (Yes, they were given a few towns-- but no where near to the size of the other tribes, and next to no farmland.) The other tribes were supposed to provide for the Levites, and in return the kohanim were a sort of conduit to God (IE: they performed the sacrifices, took care of the tabernacle/temple, enacted the Holy Day rituals, interceded for the people when they brought on God's wrath). They were called to be more holy and more pure, the purest being the High Priest, who was the only man allowed to enter the inner sanctums (where God's countenance was supposed to reside) of the temple on Yom Kippur (after being cleansed). They had/have a special covenant with God, with its own rules and regulations on top of those prescribed to other people (those sects of Judaism still acknowledging living kohanim still require of them an extra zealousness concerning the law).

    Though analogies are never perfect, giving to yourself (or, rather, your son) the title of kohen is something like naming yourself Buddha with an intention of living like Mick Jagger. So, in short: 1) It's not something you take on yourself, it was a station given by God. 2) You are taking on a privileged status, denoting (or at least which denoted in the past) a certain holiness, without the responsibilities to the people or the commitment to the exacting commandments.

    (This last point is, incidentally, why no one makes much of a fuss about Jews with the last name Cohen, which someone asked about earlier. They do not get any (one would hope) extra respect just for bearing the surname. We might respect their ancestry, but unless they are actively fulfilling the duties of kohanim, it's just like any other title surname: Duke, King, Bishop, that might denote a past connection with a station, but doesn't necessarily. Those non-Jews bearing the surname Cohen, I of course don't hold it against, as it has a different etymology and it is not something they chose knowingly.)

    To end: I have no control over what anyone names their child. All I can do is ask. If you are not religious and like the name for the sound of it: you have clearly come to this site looking for the meaning. You now know the meaning. Now you need just weigh your preference for a consonant/vowel combo against the disrespect it will cause. If you are religious and are choosing the name as an homage to the Biblical Jewish priesthood: there are current, living Jews for whom your choice is not an honor, but an insult. Likely your religion has a 'love others' clause. In this, the best way to show your love (or tolerance, if you prefer) toward us is to pick another name. There are tens of thousands of wonderful names to choose from; please leave Cohen alone.
    Last edited by onomast; July 18th, 2013 at 06:25 PM.
    Name-researcher inside a Greco-Roman framework AKA etymologies-R-US, trying to resurrect a few ancient praenomena and some not-so-ancient favorites, such as:
    Ira - Gnaeus - Avner - Bayard - Berenike - Faust
    Furmom to Euryale and Tiberius.

  5. #54
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    PA, USA
    Posts
    548
    onomast: Thank you! I understand much better now

    P.S. I wasn't considering naming a child Cohen, I just came across the thread and was wondering.

    Mama to Quentin Charles, born July 4!

    Russell Theodore || ??
    Catherine Violet || Ava Kathleen

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