You Read This: Decoding Cohen

by You Can't Call It "It"! on May 6, 2009

Jewish Ceremony in Israel


Please jet over to Pamela Redmond Satran’s article The Big Baby Naming Battle at The Daily Beast.  She breaks down the great debate over the rising use of Cohen as a first name, among Christians and other folks.  It’s a must-read.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jess and krista May 6, 2009 at 12:27 pm

this just broke my heart a little bit.


2 youcantcallitit May 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Do you mind telling us why Jess and Krista?


3 Ashley May 6, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Hi, I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago and am enjoying the name lists. I find names fascinating even though I’m probably still several years away from having my own baby to name.
Anyway, I just wanted to comment that I actually named my dog Cohen four years ago during the height of the O.C. craze. I’m cringing a bit now because I’m sure if the name is considered offensive on a human it’s probably doubly offensive on a dog.
I named my dog after the TV character. I am not Jewish. While I was aware that it was a Jewish name when I named the dog I was not aware of its meaning and history. It did dawn on me that a few people might find it offensive, but I figured I could always just say I named the dog after the TV show and that explanation would be adequate.
At the time I named the dog I was living in an area with a very small Jewish population (I had met Jewish people in real life, but not many) and the show was very popular. Four years later I’m living in a different city with a large Jewish population AND The O.C. no longer exists, so it’s harder to explain why I have a dog named Cohen. However, in four years I have yet to have a negative reaction to the name.
With all of that said, it’s not a name I would have considered for a baby. I named the dog on a whim. If I were naming a baby I would have done much more research into name history and meanings and hopefully would have discovered this debate and steered clear of the name for fear of offending people.
At any rate, I found this article very interesting. Thanks for the link.


4 youcantcallitit May 9, 2009 at 8:11 am

Ashley, your own experience with your dog is very telling. I’m sure it’s similar to that of mothers of human Cohens. Thanks for sharing that story, it made me laugh. The good thing about naming a dog Cohen is that you can always tell people it’s Cohan, and Irish. ;-)


5 Christina Fonseca May 7, 2009 at 4:03 am

Oh, if only people would educate themselves on the label they place on their kid for life!

Got a kick out of the comment that predicted that in a few years (probably months) it will morph into a girl name!


6 Mummie May 7, 2009 at 11:36 am

Offspring naming is often done with a no-muss-no-fuss mentality. Let’s close our eyes and point to a random name in a phone book. Let’s take a notion because it’s catchy, like a tune. Let’s jump on a trendwagon that’s as catching as a disease. Etymology, meaning? Too deep for me. History schmistory. Religion, ancestry? You gotta be kidding. Why should I give any thought to learning about anyone else’s traditions, much less respecting them? Much less saddling my child with a name which will never have a chance of describing the person he or she will become.


7 Mummie May 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Oh, and what a great article, by the way. Pamela Redmond Satran left no stone unturned.


8 Mummie May 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Gotta love this comment by “Twisted” on The Daily Beast:

“I hope all those asses at least get those Cohen kids circumcised.”


9 CN Heidelberg May 8, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Great article.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: