A while back I wrote a post about the up-and-coming baby name Cohen. A reader writes:
I’ve been reading your baby name blog and it has been so helpful! We just had a baby boy last year who we considered naming Cohen and ultimately decided not to because it might be offensive to some. We are currently pregnant and the name Cohen keeps coming up.
Our family identifies as culturally Jewish, but we are not very religiously active at the moment. We live in California. When we attend services we attend a very progressive Reform synagogue. My mother-in-law is a Kohen (from a priestly family) and her maiden name is Cohen. We would like to remember this part of my husband’s family, particularly his grandfather, by using the name Cohen. Is it offensive to use Cohen as a middle name? Furthermore, is it offensive for a Jew to have their first name be Cohen? I have read many articles that some Jews find it offensive for non-Jews to use the name Cohen.
But what about Jewish people using the name? We would love to consider using the name Cohen as a first or middle name but don’t want to be offensive. In our Reform community the Kohen distinctions aren’t even recognized, but my in-laws are very invested in a Conservative community.
Any insight you have on this would be much appreciated.
Congratulations on your pregnancy. I would guess that people would be less offended if you actually have the cohen tradition in your family. My family members suggested considering other names of biblical cohanim, like Ezra or Aaron. If you want to get daring you could even try Pinchas (Phineas), Elazar or Yehoyariv.
Readers, please weigh in with their thoughts as well.