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  1. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    1,055
    Sigh. As a Jew, I don't find the use of Cohen offensive exactly, but i find your attitude to be horribly so. You're not Jewish and aren't friends with any Jews, so that justifies a deliberate act of cultural appropriation?

    Look, it DOES mean something important to us. It's not like Jesus or Levi or Jude or Mohammad, all of which are actual first names before anything else. And no people, I highly doubt that there are loads of non-Muslim kids running around named Mohammad, or dozens of non-Christian Christians or Jesuses. Be real.

    So, I don't find it offensive exactly. But I do have a problem with deliberate ignorance, and the utter disregard for another culture that you and others are expressing. Americans tend to think that there's this melting pot thing going on here that makes everything ok, allows you to make up whatever you want with no consideration for how it comes across to other people. I have a similar reaction to people taking male biblical names and declaring them girly-sounding. You're misusing something that belongs to me. We're a minority group with a history of having our rights and culture trampled, and yeah, it would behoove you, in your white-person-of-Christian-descent way, to be at least a little more sensitive to that.

    I'm not surprised that people don't know this, so let me explain. There's a segment of the Jewish population even today that has a family tradition of descent from Aaron. It still counts for something, even without the Temple in Jerusalem. My father is a cohen: he gets called up to read the Torah before others in synagogue because of it, he recites a special blessing over the congregation on holidays, he even gets other small honors or firsts in religious gatherings because of it. Cohanim avoid coming into contact with dead bodies, which means (among other things) that the only time my father has ever been inside a cemetery was at his own father's funeral. My grandfather's gravestone has a special symbol on it that shows he was a cohen. My name as written on my ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) notes that I am the daughter of a cohen, and my status actually affects my kids in certain ways (FTR, my husband is a Levite).

    You can go ahead and name your son Cohen because you like the way it sounds and that matters more to you than anything else. But I reserve the right to find your choice distasteful.
    Last edited by spring13; July 18th, 2013 at 12:55 AM.

  2. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    605
    I've never quiet understood the problem, to be quiet honest.
    We name children Bishop, Jesus and Christian, both of which are obviously religious, and Bodhi, which means spiritual enlightenment for Buddhists. Why do people just blacklist the name Cohen? I don't quite understand it. I love the way the name sounds and all its spelling variations.

    Anyway, I like Cohen James, Cohen Oliver and Cohen Nash.
    Hope that gives you some ideas.
    Cara.

    Love each other, respect all life and don't run with scissors.


  3. #20
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    695
    As long as it's not a slur I don't see why one culture should have a monopoly over any name. Names can mean different things to different people.

    Unfortunately I am terrible with the middle name game and tend to feel that "anything goes"...I like one syllable names. Are there any family names you could use? If you give a list of your favorite combos I'd be happy to choose.
    Last edited by iamamiam; July 18th, 2013 at 01:02 AM.

  4. #22
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    1,055
    Quote Originally Posted by iamamiam View Post
    As long as it's not a slur I don't see why one culture should have a monopoly over any name. Names can mean different things to different people.

    I simply do not comprehend this. It's not about wanting to have a monopoly over it, just to keep it out of your hands. The issue is that it's NOT a name at all, it's something a lot more sacred than that. Even if you don't have a parallel sense or area of sacredness in your own life, you still ought to be able to accept that there's more going on here than just "I'm Jewish, so Cohen is NMS."

    Pope isn't exactly a common, popular name - not in the US top 1000 ever. Neither is Bishop, which might surprise some of you. How many non-Catholics out there are calling their kids Pope because they think it's cool? How many non-Muslims call their kids Sheikh because it sounds hip? For some reason people only make the leap into "not my religion so I'll do it anyway, screw you" for Cohen. Why is that? And why, after repeatedly being told that it is an essentially inappropriate choice, do people still say "I don't get it. Names don't belong to you!"

    This isn't about ownership, and it isn't about being petty or whiny. It's about trying to hold onto something that you might not really get, but it really matters to us.

  5. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    759
    I've mostly tried to stay out of this because, especially in THIS thread, the discussion has gone from a discussion to attacking people, but I really want to thank Spring13 for her thoughtful, tempered, and eloquent response. Your first 3 paragraphs in your first post are an exquisite explanation of cultural appropriation and the next paragraph is a wonderful window into what the heart of the issue is from your perspective. This is how discourse is done. Thank you for taking the time and risk to do it.
    Names I enjoy:

    Girls: Lucy, Elena, Lake, Sylvie

    Boys: Jack, Eamon, Sylvan, Theo

    Photo by Corey Arnold

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