Do you have to be jewish to be called "Cohen"...?

Due to personal reasons i have considered changing my name.

I settled on Cohen as it is as close to my actual surname as i can find.


This however was before i realised Cohen was an intrinsically a Jewish name. YAY idiot of the decade award

anyway do you actually have to be jewish to bare this name cause i really like it.

10 Answers

  • Aravah
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    answer: Not necessarily but the odds are you would be mistaken for being Jewish or having Jewish heritage more often than not since Cohen is inherent in the former priest-class in Judaism.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    The Khazar myth has been long debunked, but is mainly used as a way to de legitimize Israel. Firstly may I say that Judaism does not define itself on racial grounds. It allows conversion and accepts converts from all races. Nevertheless, to claim that "95" percent of all Jews are descendants of Khazar's is inaccurate and impossible from both a historical and genetic point of view. Firstly the Khazar had a distinct language and culture. Yet no Ashkenazim Jew has a Khazar name, no Ashkenazim village has a Khazar name, and Yiddish, the language of the Ashkenazim contains no trace of Khazar language. It is commonly thought that part of the motivation for the Khazar's’ conversion was to establish political neutrality for the Khazar kingdom, which faced potential threats from the powers of both Christendom and Islam. The Khazar's themselves left no documentary records. The Arab historian ibn Fadlan wrote about them, but he did so two centuries after the conversions to Judaism had occurred. Some Jews, having sought refuge from Byzantine persecutions, probably lived in the Khazar kingdom long before the conversion of the royalty there. There is no record of mass conversion by Khazar's. It is mainly he royal family that converted, not the general population. It is impossible that the small amount who converted could have become the millions of Ashkenazim we see today. There are other problems. If all Ashkenazim Jews are descended from converted Khazar's, why are there Cohens and Levis among them? One inherits the status of a Cohen (priest) or Levite from one’s father. Descendants of converts through the male line can never be a Cohen or a Levite. Finally, DNA testing has shown the connection between the Ashkenazim Jews and the Arabs. In fact there have been recent studies showing that the Palestinians may be in some instances Jews who converted to Islam. Some Palestinians on this forum use this as fuel for their claims to Israel. So if the Jews are Khazar converts, and considering the genetic links with the Palestinians, then the Palestinians must be Khazar too. Nevertheless, while some descendants of the Khazar converts still may exist, they would only make up a tiny fraction of modern Jews. It is mainly the antiSemitic websites that propagate the Khazar myth, despite the number of times it has been debunked using science, history and logic.

  • 1 decade ago











  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I believe Cowan is a derivative from Cohen anyway and your ancestors are probably Jewish. Academic or liberal profession ?

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  • 1 decade ago

    No, you do not have to be Jewish. Although the vast majority of people who have this name are Jewish or have some 'Jewish blood', not all of them do, and you can legally change your name to anything you like.

  • Ami
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    There are Irish people who have similar names. In fact, many Cohanim, when they came to the U.S., changed their names to be more like the Irish spelling of Cowan or Cohan or however they spell it, so they wouldn't be discriminated against because they were Jewish.

  • 1 decade ago

    Why would you have to be Jewish to have a surname?

    It's a free country.

  • People will assume and you'll be explaining that you're not for the rest of your life.

    You can if you want. Just consider how others will react to it and if that will affect you.

  • 1 decade ago

    Cohen is a Levite name. A priest name. Rabbi son of a rabbi kind of name.

    Do you have a Yarmulke?

  • 1 decade ago

    Why Cohen may i ask? or Cowan, w/e.

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