When is cultural appropriation ok and when is it not because it seems there are some blurred lines. People saying its wrong to use Cohen as a first name especially if not Jewish but then when an Irish name like Séan is changed to DeShawn by African Americans that is ok? Or when an African American uses the name Ashanti even if they have no connection to the Ashanti tribe that is acceptable? Can a white American call their kid Sasha or would that be insensitive to Slavic people particularly given the current circumstances? With regards to the USA should we come together in the name of diversity but then homogenize into a gloop or do we maintain healthy boundaries in the spirit of protecting our distinctiveness but risk civil war level tension? I imagine for people living in monoethnic countries like Nigeria, Russia or Japan they don't have these petty conflicts (shared culture and identity probably a reason they are so protective of their borders) but in the USA how is anyone to know the proper etiquette with regards to "cultural appropriation"? FWIW I wouldn't use DeShawn or Cohen as first names because I find it corny but in defense of anyone who does how are they to know when the USA is a multi ethnic melting pot like no other on Earth and everyone is (kinda) trying to get along? I think globalization is causing us to lose / mesh our identities.
People whine about so-called cultural appropriation because they think it's virtuous to do so, but it's a vapid preoccupation, and I couldn't care less about it. The name is fine, and I don't mean as a homage to modern Judaism, since I'd never pay homage to it. Cohen sounds good as a name, and seems more like an actual name than Parker, Jackson, Carter...
Culturally appropriation aside, it’s ridiculous that people want to name their son (or daughter!) after the most common, boring, and stereotypical Jewish surname. At least be bold and name your kid Rabinowitz or Finkelstein. I dare ya!And if you insist that Cohen sounds like a normal first name, then go argue the same thing about Allah. Go call your kid Allah and ignore Muslims who tell you it’s offensive, with the excuse that you simply like the way it sounds.
I really think this name is not bad, but if people want to bad mouth other people for giving their sons this name that isn't the so called cultural-appreciation that's on you. Not every person with the surname Cohen is Jewish that is a stereotype, it's like not every man with the name Muhammad is a Muslim, so stop the whole bashing others for giving this name to their sons.
To all the Leonard Cohen fans out there... why not just Leonard? Leo is a great nickname and has no religious or cultural connotations. Len is cool, in a quirky way.
To all the people who "have never met a Jewish person and just like the name"... uh, travel a bit more, and also, what if your kid moves to a city with any size of Jewish population? I think this name is odd and slightly offensive, and would be akin to me naming my kid Brahmin.
Phonetically, Colin, Cowan, and Conan all sound similar, have your pick of the lot, just leave names with religious and cultural significance that is not your own out of your short list of names.
It looks a little strange.
This name is a shiksa abomination. Especially with a K.
Perfect example of cultural appropriation for non-Jewish people to not only use the name, but then defend their use of something that is culturally offensive to a group of people.
I named my son Cohen in 2002. At that time it was practically unheard of as a first name. I did not know it was a controversial choice. No one in my family said it offended them. Contrary to what I see now about it being offensive, I did it BECAUSE I am Jewish, it is my great grandfather's last name, and it just felt like it was perfect for our son. I admit I am not orthodox, but I feel like I have every right to name my son our family name, just as other people name their sons 'Jackson' or 'Maxwell'. I know Christian kids named Jesus, and Deacon, and Muslim kids named Mohammed. The idea that a surname is only accepted as a first name if the name is anglo is the part that annoys me. I am honored by my heritage. We are survivors. We shall endure. I have since met a number of Cohen children who are not from Jewish families, and that doesn't bother me, because for one thing, it sets the minds of the grandparents at ease who were nervous about me naming my son something that specifically identified him as Jewish, (lest it make him a target for anti-Semitic hatred). The other reason I am okay with gentiles naming their kids Cohen is that if we have gotten to the point in history where the Jewish connection is good and not being avoided, or denigrated, then I feel we have made progress. Mind you, lots of common names are Jewish in origin. Rachel, Rebecca, Leah, Hannah, Aaron, David, Adam, Daniel, Benjamin, John, Matthew: these are all Jewish names.
I think it is nice for a boy but not for a girl! Never name your girl Cohen because you’ll get called Hen.
How can a Jewish name mean priest?
I like it. Classic.
If you aren't Jewish and you use this name, I consider it to be sacrilege. There are certain names which only certain groups of people should use and Cohen is one of them. It's absolutely offensive to my Jewish self to see mainly Christian American parents use this name just to be "tryndeigh". Literally just use Conan for a similar sounding name.
I know a girl with this name. Eurgh.
Personally if I saw a name as controversial and potentially offensive as this one, I would steer well clear of it. I don’t understand how someone could read the opinions of the many Jewish people who have expressed that this is an inappropriate name and then just ignore it.
I'm glad all the gentiles here aren't offended by using Cohen as a first name. You know, because goyim are always experts on Jewish culture and know more about how we feel and think than we do.
Um yeah, a big no to this name for reasons previously stated. And remember that your kid will be the one to bear the burden of the name. It wouldn't be fair to him to give him one that is so controversial.
Oh, and the comments saying stuff like "I don't care if it's offensive," and "It's their problem," sound very childish and insensitive.
Yeah, this name is a big no-no. The fact that you need to be of a certain lineage to have this name and its importance to Jewish culture is something you really can't ignore, and Jewish people are going to judge you and most likely be deeply offended. Leo or Leonard would be a much better tribute to Leonard Cohen.
Not a suitable first name ever.
Cohen is NOT an exclusively Jewish surname. In MacLysaght's "The Surnames of Ireland" it says Cohen is used as a form of Coyne (ultimately from Irish Gaelic "wild goose") in Connacht and of Cowan in County Down. MacLysaght says the name "has usually no Jewish connotation in Ireland."And though Cohen is the most common form of the Hebrew surname when written in the letters of the Roman alphabet, there are a great many others, (Kohen, Kohn, Cahan, Cahn, Cahen, Kahn, Kahen, Cohane, Kahan, Kahane, Cohani, Cahani, Cahany, Kahany, Cogan, Kogen, Kogan, Cagan, Kagan, etc.) No culture can really have a monopoly on any short name -- there is bound to be another word or name in another culture somewhere which resembles it just by chance.
So what if it’s a religious name? I’m Catholic and I’m okay with this Jewish name. Live in the 2000s, please!
Catholic parents are not going to name their son 'The Pope.' Jewish parents are not going to name a kid Cohen. If you met a kid named 'The Pope' you would instantly know that the parents:
1) Are not Catholic.
2) Are so clueless about the Catholic faith that they thought this was an okay name.
3) Did not ask anyone who was Catholic if it was an okay name.
4) Did not learn anything about the name beyond it sounds nice.
Yup, I'm jewish and I do find it odd maybe not off-the-charts offensive, but just so very ODD when people name their kids this. And, yes; I do know someone (not Jewish) who named their son this. And, No- of course I never said: "Hey, did you know that I find it super odd and culturally insensitive that you would name your child, your child who ALREADY HAS THIS NAME and can't do anything about it, Cohen?" No, no one is going to say that. However, suffice its to say; if you are thinking about this name- that's what a lot of Jewish people are gonna think when they hear it. If parents actually looked up the history of the name, or asked someone who was Jewish beforehand, they probably wouldn't name their kid this. Which is why it is so bizarre; it pretty much declares that you didn't bother to look it up. If you do read these comments and still decide to name your kid Cohen, well, then; that IS offensive. Leonard, Leo, Norman, names from songs (I can only think of girl names but I'm sure with a little creativity you can come up with a good list) are all better tributes to Leonard Cohen.
How is my name offensive?
See the thing about everyone who agrees that the name is offensive is that you’re all wusses. Seriously, if a name is “so offensive” to you, you really have to grow a pair. It’s a name. It’s not like I’m naming my kid an offensive slur.
Why would people be offended by it? I was raised a Christian but I wouldn't care if somebody named their kid Deacon or Pope or something. It literally doesn't affect you in the slightest.
WOW. I cannot believe everyone saying that this name could potentially be offensive. What a bunch of crybabies. Just because someone COULD be offended by the name, does not give anyone the right to make people feel bad because they like it and want to use it. If you don't like it, keep your mouth shut and move on. You're no better than the thought police in 1984.
This as a first name is a huge no.
Even though Conan and Cohen are different names I still think of Conan O'Brien when I hear Cohen. It also sounds a little too much like a last name but that's the trend these days so I can't control. I will add that I like this 'last name sounding' name more than others.
Not any different than using Deacon (for non-christians, a Deacon is an ordained minister/below a priest). I'm not offended by anyone, Jewish or otherwise, who use it.
My last name is Cohen. I say go for it. In America today it's no different than naming your kid McKenzie or Taylor or Levi (another Jewish name that means a priest's assistant or deacon. I don't meet too many kids with the first name Cohen, but when I do, I'm honored. Of course, my dog's name is Chang— he came with the name, so consider the source.)
We named our son Cohen in 2007, solely after Leonard Cohen. I was a senior at UT-Austin and had discovered him a few years before. I have never had to explain his name to anyone, but I do tell people who he’s named after. I know plenty of Jews and not one has ever said anything about his name. Honestly, reading the comments here is the first time I have heard that his name could be offensive.
My conclusion based on these comments: If you insist on naming your child after an utterly Jewish surname, be prepared to explain yourself a thousand times. Regarding Cohen as a first name, there is apparently nothing else to comment on besides the fact that it's controversial. I'm curious to see a comment from an adult Cohen who actually lived with the name.Also, I find it a bit ironic that people who name their kids after surnames of people in pop culture, and clearly don't care about meaning, would come to this site to complain about people talking about a name's meaning.
The things we as Americans become offended about. Too sensitive to say the very least. I know no one named Cohen but have seen so many ridiculous posts about cultural appropriation on Where are all of these so called Jewish people who seem to be so highly offended? All I see are people willing to jump on the train of cultural appropriation and go against the usage of this name. I guess though since I'm not Christian it would be wrong for me to name my child a biblical name? Cultural appropriation is a joke in and of itself. With this logic, considering I'm African American, corn rows seem to predominantly be found on an African American's head but does that mean a person of another origin may not use it simply because it's so called "stealing from a culture?" I end in: The sensitivity is ridiculous. Name your kid as you please.
Puleeze, those commenting on how offensive this name is to Jews. Get over yourselves. You do not have a lock on these five letters in this order. My beautiful grandson is named Cohen and we could give a flying flip what anyone thinks of his name. We did not get the memo before he was named and now that he is named, we are happy with both him and his name. If you would judge a human being by his name, you are not really a decent human being.
Cohen is a great name! Has no religious meaning to me at all. I am not Jewish, I don't know any Jews... in fact, I know more Cohen's than Jews.
I named my beautiful son Cohen in October of 1998 because my childhood sweetheart had a dog named Cohen, the dog was named after everyone drew names out of a hat, his aunt Deb had a sweetheart that had the last name Cohen, so I just thought the cycle of love would continue with me naming my baby Cohen Wesley and if anyone is offended at any child being named this well, you are also a child!
We chose the name Cohen for our beautiful son born on lucky Friday 13th 2014. We chose the name due to its Gaelic heritage and him being a fine Irish boy. To us it is a beautiful name and nothing more... I wouldn't like for it to be linked to the fabricated of state of Israel in any way shape or form.
Wow, I named my son Cohen because there was simply no other name that came to me for him. Knowing that names are important in the Bible, I asked God what I should name my son and Cohen is the name I felt He chose. I know it is deeply connected to the Biblical priesthood and I thought it was a great honor for my son to bear that name. I never thought twice about Jewish people being offended or confused by it. I was proud and I still am. Our Messiah, Jesus, is described as our high priest in the Bible so again, I am proud for my son to carry the priestly name, whether he is of Hebrew descent or not.
I'm encouraged that there are several other people who have chosen to name their sons Cohen. It's a beautiful name with a rich history.
Some people are unbelievable. To say people would be offended. What right do they have to decide.
I named my son Cohen because I liked the name. If I wanted to call him priest or jesus or john I would've.
I also named my other son a popular Spanish name. I have no idea what religion people might be with that name nor do I care. It's not something I look into.
I have always liked surnames for first names and that is why I named him Cohen. Plus I loved Leonard Cohen. And there was an NBA player listed on some sports websites who wasn't a Jew.I couldn't imagine my son being anything else.
If I have offended any Jew then I am deeply sorry.
But I have no idea when I will know someone is a Jew or not. Because in my eyes, we are all the same and should be treated the same. No matter what our skin colour or name is.I have a friend that is muslim and I was going to name my son after him, now do you think my friend would have been offended or honoured?
I have come to a conclusion... as a second name Cohen means priest in Jewish.But as a first name it means... amazing child.
I named my son Cohen in 2008.
I fell in love with the name after the popular show called 'the O.C'.
I couldn't care less what anyone else thinks of it. Or any other religion. Some of these comments make me laugh. I love my little Cohen and couldn't imagine him being called anything else.
Anyone who is offended by a name is a ridiculous human being! I named my son Cohen due to the fact my favourite song was written by Leonard Cohen and also due to the fact I like the name! As an atheist I do not worry myself with offending religious people regardless of their faith and If I liked the name I would have had no problem with calling my child Mohammed! If a religious person is offended by my son's name then that is unfortunately their problem. Offense is 'taken' and not 'given' especially if it is not intended to offend anyone! It is therefore the problem of the person who is offended to worry about! Each to their own in my opinion and if anyone says to my son that his name is offensive then I will tell him to treat it with the complete lack of concern it deserves!
I believe that those who have protested against this name's use have a point: it's not only weird, it can be taken as offensive. Seeing as people take offense at anything these days, why would one bestow this on their child? Even if you think you could deal with it, there's no way to know how your son will cope with potential harassment. Yes, it has a nice sound, I agree- but is it really worth it?
I really like this name, I think it has kind of a bad ass sound to it, I would consider using it.
Was aware that Cohen was a Jewish surname before we chose it as our sons name. We decided on Cohen because we both love Leonard Cohens music. As I'm agnostic, I could care less about the religious meaning of the name.
It's a name people, it belongs to nobody so build a bridge and get over it. Just because a religion has a priest associated to the name doesn't make it forbidden. What is a Jew? Who is a Jew? Anything or anybody who practices that religion.
I've noticed Cohen's rising popularity and as a given name. Originally, I was weirded out by this. Why would people want to name their kids a common Jewish surname? Then I realized that not only did it appear in pop-culture, but it has this "unique", trendy appeal: It's a firm, 2-syllable name with a long vowel as the first syllable, and ending in "-en". Similar names of this manner would be Caden, Coltan, Logan, Brayden, and Mason. Also, it's something... different. Ok, I get it. I'm not offended.While the meaning is merely "high priest of ancient Israel", it's also understandable why many people would not be turned away by its meaning. However, understand that the meaning is much deeper than this to the Jewish community, as the Messiah is believed to be a descendant of the Kohenim lineage. If this deeper meaning seems "cool" to you, then understand that the offense to using this name would be like a non-Muslim baby being named Mohammad just because of the way it "sounds", or an Atheist naming their child Jesus.If you name your child Cohen, Jews will know you're not Jewish because Jews would not use this name (as it is a title, not a given name). Even secular Jews wouldn't use it since it's such a common surname. I understand if you live in an area with no Jewish community in sight, then why should you worry? Well, many people may be very confused by this. Your child may even experience anti-Semitism, even though he isn't Jewish.I also don't recommend common surnames as being used as first names in general (unless it is also a common given name). Overall, this name will lead to much confusion (and some offense). An alternative is the Dutch name Koen, which has a different meaning all together.
Among Jews, this name would be rather sacrilegious to use, especially if you are not a Cohen and most of all if you are not Jewish. I cannot believe how ignorant some people are who use this name.
I agree. Jews DO NOT use this name. Cohen is incredibly offensive, tacky, and ridiculous. Since it's associated with Kohanim Jews, it's like naming your child Priest. Cohen is yet another name that popular culture has influenced parents to use, although it's not a good association. I'd rather see Bronx Mowgli or Egypt Dean. That is why Cohen is a bad name. There are plenty of other names out there.
Oh, wow. You don't ever want to try to justify this name on a non-Jewish child to some people. Such a contentious issue.

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