By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, November 5, 2008
A Cohen is one of the class of priests among the Jewish people. Membership is hereditary, via the father. A slew of common Jewish surnames (Cohen, Kagan, Kahane etc) are variations of Cohen and usually indicate that the holders are Cohanim.
Cohen simply means priest in biblical Hebrew (as well as in Canaanite and Ugaritic). However, Chief Rabbi Sacks has argued persuasively that the primary meaning of Cohen was teacher. Just before the Torah is given, God promises that Israel will