the great name debate (or, is it kosher?)

Hey there internet. On a streak this week. Don’t mind the fact that I wrote Monday-through-Wednesday all on Sunday night. In fact, the whole mass-write-then-split thing is becoming a trend for me.

Did you know Sharaun and I are having a “disagreement” about what to name our coming son? Yeah well, we are. Thankfully, no blood has been spilled; no armies rallied; no battle-lines drawn; but there the situation might be best described as a stalemate… maybe even an impasse. You see, Sharaun has her heart set on a name and I, I’m not fully won-over. With “Keaton” we both clicked, but this time we’re having a hard time finding some common-ground.

It’s not that I hate the name she’s smitten with, not at all. In fact, I rather like it. But… for what some may consider “stupid” or “silly” reasons I’m not entirely convinced it’s the right name for our boy. Plus, there are several other names I really like which don’t present me with the same “concerns.” Not surprisingly, Sharaun dismisses those concerns as me being “retarded.” Could be true folks, I’ve had my doubts before…

So what’s the name? And why am I yet to be sold?


She absolutely loves the name Cohen. She has all these crazy criteria the name must satisfy. It can’t be the name of anyone she’s known in life who’s left her with a negative impression (a teacher by trade, there are several names forever stricken because of this one); it can’t be the name of any of our friends’ (although there seems to be some sort of distance qualifier) kids; it can’t be anything “normal,” “boring,” or overly-popular; it needs to sound good with both our last name and used together with “Keaton.” And, finally, to be perfect it should actually be a surname re-purposed as a first-name. Cohen meets or exceeds all these bars. But what’s “wrong” with Cohen.

Nothing. Except… we’re not Jewish. Sorry… let me see if I can explain.

It all started when I Google’d the name Cohen. That led me to a spirited thread in an online forum on a baby-names website. In that thread some non-Jewish person was asking about using the traditionally Jewish surname “Cohen” as a first name for their child. A couple responses caught my eye:

I’m Jewish and I find the name Cohen/Kohen as a first name to be highly disrespectful to the Jewish heritage and in bad taste.

A Kohen is is a Jewish priest who is a direct descendant of Aaron from the bible; a very important part of the Jewish religion with a range of responsibilities and restrictions and the surname comes from their title. It has never been a first name such as Sara or David and should not be put in the same category.

Unfortunately it is NOT just a name. I realise that you don’t think it’s a big deal which is presumably because you don’t understand the profound importance that this title has for Jews.


Now look, I realize that internet message boards are not exactly representative of majority opinion (in fact, it’s probably the opposite…). Sharaun is also quick to point out that the internet is “full of retards,” and that I shouldn’t care a whit about what some crotchety Jew thinks of the name. (Man, Sharaun really likes to denigrate the mentally challenged.) Maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m being silly by letting that one comment in that one thread bother me.

So I did some more research, and found more interesting commentary. I also asked a few friends, a subset of whom replied simply, “Isn’t that a Jewish name?” None of this helped me take a firm stance one way or the other, however.

So friends, help me. Am I being silly? Should I just get over this whole Jewish thing? I do like the name. Let me also state that I have no aversion to a kid with a Jewish name, or a Hindu name, or even a kid named “Mullah” for that matter… it’s the whole “offensive, ignorant, and insensitive” bit that bugs me. Should it?


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3 Replies to “the great name debate (or, is it kosher?)”

  1. 1) the internet commenters are the offensive, ignorant and insensitive ones.
    2) your naming decision should not be influenced by the B HUSSEIN Obama crowd.
    3) the types of people who are going to be offended are not people you care to know or want your child to befriend anyway. but seriously, it is way too popular with the hillbilly crowd, guess that’s why you like it.

  2. Cohen is cool. Vishnu would be cooler… I mean with that name, you could really get things done. Gozer the Gozerian would be pretty sweet as well. 🙂

    I’ll look forward to the final result!

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