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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Help! My child's name is offensive??

    I have a 2-year old named Cohen. My husband and I are Leonard Cohen fans and thought the name went well with our last name. We looked up the meaning, which was 'priest' in Hebrew. Nothing popped up about it being offensive at the time. It wasn't until a month or two ago, when I looked up the name to see if it has risen in popularity, that I came across multiple form debates on the name Cohen! I had no idea this was considered an insensitive name choice and I certainly didn't want to offend anyone with my son's name.

    Now I feel sort of sick thinking that my son may have trouble with his name. We haven't had any negative comments in real life but I am really worried for him! I am thinking of changing the spelling to Cohan, but I don't know if there is any point if I am keeping the same pronunciation. He certainly knows his name so it's too late for a full name change, and my husband would probably take a lot of convincing even to change the spelling. I'm having big time name regret and not sure what to do!
    Last edited by bus; October 6th, 2013 at 09:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    That was one of my names too and I love it. I didn't know it was controversial or offensive at all until reading some debates on here either. I don't really know what you could do since he's almost 2. If you haven't had any negative comments about it yet, maybe it will be fine.. I do love the name though!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Yeah, this is really offensive. I suggest changing the spelling of your son's name immediately and giving him a nickname if possible.
    Simon, Eloise/Louise, Faye, Judah, Thea, Felix, Iris, Cordelia, Roscoe, Lydia, Jasper, Phaedra, Adrian, Lucinda, Jane, Conrad, Wallace, Finnegan, Sylvie, Charlie, Dashiell, Juniper, Atlas, Matilda, Julian, Alice, Marlowe, Octavia, Jack, Marigold, Archer, Gabriel, Persephone, Raphael, Dov

    Just a grad student, dreaming ahead...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    I find it sad and offensive (sorry) and wish your kid was named Leonard, but I wouldn't be attacking your kid for being named that.

    A lot of the people who'd find it the worst/most hurtful are people who won't ever say anything about it to his face, they will just think "I wonder what his parents were thinking."

    I wouldn't worry about him getting beat up or anything though. Most of the world isn't Jewish and doesn't care. If you were still considering the name for an unborn child I'd try to talk you out of it, but I don't think you need to hyperventilate about him "having trouble" with it. It has a lot of issues with cultural appropriation but plenty of people don't give a damn about minority groups (look at the popularity of Dakota, which I know hurts a friend of mine of that background). I wouldn't use Dakota but aside from that one friendship, I *could* use it without "any trouble."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Maybe a nickname or call him by his middle name ?
    I personally have no idea what the issue is but I have read about the name also.
    Name favorites :

    Alana, Scarlett, Alexandria, Annalise, Gianna, Marcella, Kayla, Arabella, Julianna, Anastasia, Jovanna

    Cole, William, Samuel, Caleb, Rylan, Roman, Grayson, Jackson, Joseph, Caden, Christian, Joshua

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Disagree. This would be going overboard, imo.
    Personal Favorites: Mira Cairdeas and Darrow Paine

    Best Wishes To All

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Keep the name and just explain the Leonard Cohen connection if it comes up. Most people would be understanding. It should be your child's choice about whether to change it at this point, but only if he brings it up.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    I have to disagree with pp. Not all of us are religious and wouldn't know what the real meaning behind the name is. Personally, I think its a perfectly fine name and that you shouldn't have regrets. Its the same as a Hispanic family naming their son Jesus, or when people name their kids Artemis or something like that.
    robin | INTP | ravenclaw

    morgana amaranthe snow | eowyn lavender | yvaine wisteria
    ophelia rhodanthe plum | galilea rosebud | lilac evening
    astoria eluned dawn | ostara sunset | lyra october

    florian michelangelo frost | idris hawthorne | gideon fable
    isidore peregrine quill | leonardo hale | alistair wren
    magnus orion winter | raphael atlas | evander ash

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    I have found that people on this site get very offended by the name Cohen, but most Jewish people just find the name to be odd instead of offensive. You may find one or two people who are offended by it, but the majority of Jews would just think it to be strange. I don't think you need to worry about changing it. If you were still pregnant, I'd try and convince you to choose another name, but he's been Cohen for two years and there's no point in changing it.

    I'll probably get a lot of hate for this statement, but I'm just being honest. Some people on Nameberry are highly offended by the name (like the pp's) but people on Nameberry are obviously name lovers, and we tend to see names as a really big deal, when in reality, they aren't that big of a deal.

    To anyone who may be offended by me saying this: I'm sorry, I meant no offence, I am not belittle the fact that yes, it can is potentially offensive.
    Married to Luc; Mom to Thea, Stephen, & Isabella.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    I think sticking the name will be up to you, but you should make sure your decision is informed. Pam wrote an article for the Daily Beast a while back:

    If it were me, if after reading this article I still were leaning toward the name, I'd contact my local synagogue and consult with them before making my final decision.

    If you decide to change it, although your son is two, I imagine there are ways to transition him easily......start calling him by both his first and middle or both Cohen and his new first, and then drop the Cohen. Or choose something similar....Cohen to Colin, maybe? But that's a secondary issue right now. Educate yourself, then make a decision.
    Obsessing over names since 1964

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