The distinguished surname Kagan is a proud sign of an ancient Jewish culture. The surname Kagan is an occupational surname for a priest, and it comes from the Hebrew word kohen. Traditionally, priests were considered to have been members of a hereditary caste, descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses. Not all Jewish bearers of the surname Kagan belong to this caste, however. When many Jews were being forced to join the Russian Army for a term of 25 years, a number of them changed their last name to Kagan, because members of the clergy were exempt from service.
Kagan migration to the United States
Some of the first settlers of this family name were:
Kagan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Samuel Kagan, aged 26, who landed in New York, NY in 1840 
Simon Kagan, aged 26, who arrived in New York, NY in 1840 
Contemporary Notables of the name Kagan (post 1700)
Vladimir Kagan (1927-2016), American furniture designer, inducted into the Interior Designer Hall of Fame in 2009
Janet Kagan (1946-2008), award-winning American science fiction author
Donald Kagan (b. 1932), American historian, winner of the National Humanities Medal in 2002
Veniamin Fedorovich Kagan (1869-1953), Russian and Soviet mathematician
Oleg Kagan (1946-1990), Soviet violinist
Henri B. Kagan (b. 1930), French Emeritus Professor at the Université Paris-Sud, co-winner of the 2001 Wolf Prize
^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
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