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Ben Cohen

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2003-12-09

Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen

As England celebrates its first major sporting victory in nearly 40 years with the Rugby World Cup, SomethingJewish takes a look at player Ben Cohen and discovers a bit about his Jewish roots.

Rugby star Ben Cohen may not officially be Jewish or a fully paid-up member of the tribe, but that doesn’t stop him from announcing that he has long-distance Yiddish roots.  “My family’s not Jewish,” he said in an interview on his official website, “but a few generations back they used to be. I think it was my great grandfather that married a non-Jewish girl and broke with tradition.”

Cohen was born in 1978 in Northampton, and comes from a long line of famous sporting relatives; his uncle, George (on his father’s side) was a member of the 1966 England World Cup Squad, and played for Fulham (whom Cohen also supports).

Six things that tell us why Ben Cohen is Jewish
1. His surname is Cohen, after all. This should be a giveaway in itself, as a Cohen is a Jewish priest, and it’s hard to disagree that having Ben in the England team is a blessing, which no doubt helped towards England’s victory.

2.Ben’s first name is Ben – which is a nice Jewish name meaning ‘son’. So Ben Cohen means ‘son of a Cohen’.

3. When asked in a TV interview on the day of the victory parade how he came to play rugby, Ben replied “I was just brought in to make up the numbers” – something which happens to a lot of Jewish people on sports teams (who are often there just “to make up the numbers”)

4. He says two of his favourite films are Meet The Parents and Snatch – both of which feature prominent Jewish characters (Ben Stiller as a neurotic Jewish nurse in Meet The Parents and Mike Reid impersonating a Hassidic Jew in Snatch).

5. He is from Northampton, which has a Jewish community.

6. He shares his name with a lot of other Jewish people called Ben Cohen, the most famous being Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben And Jerry’s. Not only is he totally Jewish, but the company’s ice-cream is 100% kosher certified.

Related links:

Ben Cohen official site