Kohen (KOH-hen) listen
Kohen (koh-HAIN) listen
Kohen (KOY-en) listen


  • n. A descendant of the Jewish priestly caste, with the tradition of descent from the biblical Aaron, who plays special roles in religious services and is subject to certain restrictions.

Example Sentences

  • "He can't go into the cemetery, can he, if he's a Kohen." (Glinert)

  • "Is anyone in the room a Kohen for Rishon [first aliyah to the Torah reading]?"

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • Yiddish


  • TH כהן kohen > Y כּהן koyen

    • Who Uses This

      • Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements


      • North America
      • Great Britain
      • South Africa
      • Australia / New Zealand


      • The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
      • The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
      • Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

      Alternative Spellings

      Koyhayn, Coyhayn, Koyheyn, Coyheyn, Coyhein, Koyhein, Koyhen, Coyhen, Koyayn, Coyayn, Koyeyn, Coyeyn, Coyein, Koyein, Koyen, Coyen, Kohayn, Cohayn, Koheyn, Coheyn, Cohein, Kohein, Cohen, Kohanim


  • Today, a Kohen is preferred for the first aliyah of a Torah reading, traditionally should not enter a cemetery (unless for the funeral of an immediate family member) or marry a divorcée, and they can perform the Priestly Blessing (duchen).

    The Reform movement does not make distinctions as to heritage when it calls congregants for an aliyah.

    See also Levite and Kehuna.

    plural: 'kohanim'

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