In a message dated 5/27/2006 1:29:54 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
"In the pre-family name days (i.e. before ~1800)
when names still had the "Isaac ben Abraham" form, how did it work
with Levites and Kohanim? Were "Levi" and "Kohen" part of the name?"
==The gentile authorities couldn't have cared less about Cohanim or Leviim.
==However, Within the Jewish community, Cohanim and Levi'im often used that
designation as if it were a surname: Kohn, Kahn, haKohen, Katz, Aaronson,
etc of Levi, haLevi, Levy, Levitas etc.
==Those names were often used as part of the full secular name, in the way
that a trade (Schneider etc.) or location (Frankfurter, etc) was used as a
==For Jewish ritual purposes, haKohen or haLevi was always part of the
designee's full name.
==Gentiles often attributed ecclesiastical titles to Jews, rabbis, parnassim
(community presidents), shtadlanim (negotiators on behalf of the
community)--titles such as priest, bishop, preacher, monk. Kohanim were also
sometimes accorded an ecclesiastical title
== Coincidentally, or simply by natural selection, the Russian word for
priest is Kagan (correct me if I'm wrong) which is also a Russian spelling for
the Hebrew Kahan (Cohen). I'm totally ignorant about any Slavic language,
Russian especially, but I would assume that the church in Russia (Orthodox, of
course) may have gotten the Kahan root >from some Semitic language translation of
the Torah; the H-to-G change was necessitated because Russian lacks a sound
or letter for H.
==In short: In Jewish ritual use, the haLevi or haKohen label (or their
equivalents, e.g. SEGAL for LEVI) was always used
==within the Jewish community, these designations were nearly always part of
==for the civilauthorities, these labels were used
1. when the specific Jew used it as part of his secular name
2. occasionally, for Kohanim, usually with some non-Jewish label signifying
friar, monk, priest, deacon or bishop--but probably not for Levites.
Michael Bernet, New York MBernet@aol.com