Cohen (surname)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Cohen (Hebrew: כֹּהֵן, kōhēn, "priest") is a Jewish surname[1] of biblical origins (see: Kohen). It is a very common Jewish surname, and the following information discusses only that origin.

Bearing the surname indicates that one's patrilineal ancestors were priests in the Temple of Jerusalem. A single such priest was known as a Kohen, and the hereditary caste descending from these priests is collectively known as the Kohanim.[2] As multiple languages were acquired through the Jewish diaspora, the surname acquired dozens of variants.

Being a Kohen imposes some limitations: by Jewish law a Kohen may not marry a divorced woman, and may not marry a proselyte (someone who converted to Judaism).[3] Nor should an observant Kohen come into contact with the dead.[4]

An effort to trace whether or not people named 'Cohen' actually have a common genetic origin has been undertaken in the specific DNA signature associated with the name known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype.[5]

Cohen may refer to:


Cohen, the surname (or in a few cases, part of a double-barrelled surname) of many people:



  • Andrew Cohen (spiritual teacher), (born 1955) an American guru, spiritual teacher, founder of the magazine What Is Enlightenment?, author, and musician
  • Benjamin Cohen (professor), an American Professor
  • Bernard Cecil Cohen, educator and acting Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • I. Bernard Cohen, former professor of the history of science at Harvard University
  • Brad Cohen, a motivational speaker and an award-winning teacher and author
  • Eliot A. Cohen, a Professor of Strategic Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, and currently serving as Counselor to the U.S. State Department
  • Gerald Cohen, the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford
  • Jack Cohen (1919–2012), American Reconstructionist rabbi, educator, philosopher and author
  • Joanna Waley-Cohen, Professor of History at New York University, where she has taught since 1992
  • Michael D. Cohen (1945–2013), American academic
  • Morris Cohen (scientist), (1911–2005) an emeritus Institute Professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Henry Cohen (rabbi), rabbi of the Congregation B'nai Israel in Galveston, Texas
  • Reuben Cohen, Canadian businessman, lawyer, and the third Chancellor of Dalhousie University
  • Richard A. Cohen, lecturer on conversion therapy
  • Richard I. Cohen, professor of Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Stanley Cohen (sociologist) (1942–2013), Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics
  • Stephen F. Cohen, scholar of Russian studies in the United States

Writers / Journalists[edit]



  • Ryosuke Cohen, internationally known mail artist (whose surname is a stylistic spelling of Japanese Kōen and does not derive from the Hebrew name)
  • Lynne Cohen, professional fine art photographer
  • Dan Colen, artist based in New York (whose surname was changed from "Cohen" by his paternal grandfather)


  • Bram Cohen, American computer programmer, best known as the author of the peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing program and protocol BitTorrent

Entertainment industry people[edit]

Sports and athletics[edit]


  • Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy in Syria. Exposed and executed in 1965
  • Lona Cohen, an American member of the Communist Party USA who was recruited into Soviet espionage in 1939 by her husband
  • Maurice Cohen, cryptographer
  • Morris Cohen (Soviet spy) (1910–1995), also known as Peter Kroger, was a Soviet spy who helped pass Manhattan Project secrets to the USSR




  • Arthur Cohen, an English barrister and king's counsel
  • Felix S. Cohen (1907–1953), a lawyer and legal scholar who developed an expertise in law concerning natural resources, statehood and economic development for American territories, Indian affairs, and immigration and minority problems
  • George H. Cohen, American director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
  • Roy Cohn (1927–1986), an American lawyer who came to prominence during the investigations by Senator Joseph McCarthy into alleged Communism in the U.S. government
  • Jerome A. Cohen, a professor of law at New York University School of Law and an expert in Chinese law
  • Lionel Leonard Cohen, Law Lord, one of "the three wise men"

Fictional characters[edit]

Names needing to be sorted[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schreiber, Mordecai (2011). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Taylor Trade Publications. 
  2. ^ Donin, Rabbi Haim Halevy (1972). To Be A Jew. A Guide to Jewish Observance in Contemporary Life. Basic Books. p. 198. 
  3. ^ Donin p.291
  4. ^ Donin p.304
  5. ^ Sources for the genetic studies are given in the article Y-chromosomal Aaron.

External links[edit]