X Cohen


OH JOY!!!!
Valued Senior Member
Is there something about the Cohen last name that they all need the middle name of X??? or is it just coincidence that the few I have noticed (I read movie credits :eek: ) are like this?
Cohen is one of three common surnames found in the Jewish community that is actually of Hebrew origin. Kohein means "priest" in Hebrew. (The other two are Levi, one of the Israelite tribes, and Israel, one of the Kings of the Jewish people after whom the nation was ultimately named.) Theoretically a Cohen is a descendant of the Israelite priests, but in the chaos of the Diaspora we can assume that some people renamed themselves in order to gain a bit of privilege. It comes with a real disadvantage: under Jewish law priests are only supposed to marry virgins, so a traditionalist community will not allow a Cohen to marry a divorced woman. (I understand that resolving this is high on the list of Jewish priorities once DNA testing hits the consumer market.)

Jews did not generally use surnames. In fact surnames are a very recent development for all of us, since they only became necessary as cities got bigger and might have more than one "George the tailor, son of Henry the smith." (Of course some people named themselves George Taylor and Henry Smith, which hasn't helped much. :)) Even today some Jews, especially in Israel, use the traditional ben, "son of," e.g. David ben-Gurion.

David X. Cohen, the TV writer known for his work with Matt Groening on "The Simpsons" and "Futurama," was born David S. Cohen. When animated shows were unionized, he was forced to choose a new professional name since there was already a David S. Cohen in the Writers Guild of America. He chose the initial X because it seemed appropriate to sci fi.

Derek X. Cohen, the comedian, is clearly not Jewish and probably adopted the stage name.

I'm not Googling up a lot of people with X. Cohen in their names, and no other scriptwriters besides David.

But Cohen is the most common surname among Jewish Americans (Levy is second and Miller is third :)) and there are thousands of them whose middle names don't start with X. In fact, St. Xavier was the founder of the Jesuit order of Catholic monks, so it's not a name that you'd expect to be popular among Jews. The most famous Cohen who pops into this musician's head is Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen, and his middle name is Norman.

By the same token, since Cohen is so strongly associated with Jewish people, it's not a name that's likely to pop up too often in the Gentile community. I suspect that the people you're running across in the entertainment business named So-and-so X. Cohen are goyim who took the name on a whim for professional reasons. Heck, I'm sure lantsmen have done it too. :)

BTW, Cohan is an Irish name.