“Mazel Pups” combines our love of Judaism and love of dogs


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

During Covid, “pandemic pups” became all the rage. More than 23 million American households — nearly 1 in 5 nationwide — adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). My social timelines were and are flooded with photos of dogs referred to as “my kids” or “my children.”  It was fun to watch this natural evolution of pet owners, as more of us simply recognized that our four-legged pals were more than our best friends, and are a part of the family. Recently, I came upon a Facebook group that celebrates this new family dynamic, especially in the Jewish communities around the U.S. Welcome to the world of “Mazel Pups.”

Mazel Pups

In her roles of directing a rabbinic fellowship for 18Doors and serving as a part-time rabbi at Temple Menorah Keneseth Chai in Northeast Philadelphia, Rabbi Robyn Frisch officiates a lot of weddings and, in recent years, has noticed a trend with the couples she marries and their dogs.

“Over the past couple of years, since COVID started, when I’ve had to meet with many wedding couples on Zoom, I see their dogs sitting next to them on their sofas or on their laps. I’ve married couples where dogs have been part of the proposal, and it’s not at all unusual for couples to include their dogs in their engagement photos or even their wedding photos,” said Frisch.  “I’ve officiated wedding ceremonies where the dogs have walked down the aisle. In one ceremony I officiated one of the couple’s two dogs walked one of the brides down the aisle.”

Frisch’s own love for dogs has been a great way to bond with her wedding couples and others.

“I’m a mom to two crazy but lovable rescue dogs, Bo, who likes to chase cars, even though he’s been hit twice, and Frankie, who’s scared of all males, including my husband and sons, even though he’s lived with us for over two years,” said Frisch. “But Frankie is totally attached to me, which I love. The way Bo and Frankie jump all over me and wag their tails excitedly when I walk in the door is one of the best feelings ever. There are very few things in life as wonderful as the unconditional love you get from your dog.”

This eventually led her to create an online space where people could share their love of dogs.

“There are already a number of dog websites, Facebook groups, etc., so I knew that I needed a niche, and for me, that was a no-brainer: I wanted it to be something that involved Judaism and dogs – but in a light, fun way,” said Frisch.

Mazel Pups Launches

Frisch launched the Mazel Pups Facebook group on January 2, 2022, with the goal to make a connection between Jewish and Jew-ish – which Frisch says means whatever you want it to mean – dog lovers.

‘If you’re partnered with a Jewish person or just like Jewish stuff and want to be in a group where a lot of dog lovers wish each other “Shabbat Shalom!” you’re more than welcome,” said Frisch. “There are so many horrible things going on in the world today – I wanted to create a virtual space where people like me who love Judaism and love dogs can go and share a picture or story about their dog, see other dogs, and just get a break and smile.”

The first members were friends and colleagues. But then within a couple of days, there were hundreds of members, and people from all over were posting.

“Other people were commenting on their posts. I was constantly checking my phone and watching the numbers go up – and I realized that my intuition was correct,” remembers the rabbi.

Then, on January 9, one week after she started the (I’d take out “the”) Mazel Pups, Frisch randomly woke up at 5:12 am, and because she couldn’t not check, she checked on Mazel Pups. At that moment, there were 613 members.

“I’m not a superstitious person, but I did find it amazing that right at that moment that I happened to wake up in the middle of the night Mazel Pups had 613 members, the number of Mitzvot (commandments) that there are in the Torah,” said the rabbi. ” I remember thinking at the time that even if this doesn’t go anywhere beyond this, it’s so nice to have created this little community of Jewishly connected people who are enjoying sharing pictures and bonding over their love of dogs.”

But since then, the numbers have grown, and now the group has over 2,000 members.

“What’s made me feel the best is watching total strangers connect and support one another. When someone posts for the first time, often another member will comment: “Welcome to the Mazel Pups Family” or “Welcome to the Community.” To have created a space where people connect in this way has been really rewarding,” said Frisch.

Posting on Mazel Pups

What you’ll find posted on Mazel Pups, really varies. People will post everything from pictures of their dogs just hanging out to pictures of their dogs with their kids and grandkids and of course their grand-dogs.

“Once someone asked for help in thinking of a good Jewish name for a dog he was about to get,” said Frisch. “Another time, when the Torah portion was “Yitro,” which contains the Ten Commandments, I had people share what they think should be the Ten Commandments for Dogs.”

On Fridays, there are often posts of dogs in kippot or waiting to eat some challah, and people tend to wish each other Shabbat Shalom. There are also lots of posts of dogs on their birthdays, often in a birthday hat and/or bow and maybe with a toy they’ve received. Bark Mitzvah and “gotcha days” posts are popular as well. And people will share pictures of dogs who’ve passed away that they’re remembering – and receive touching comments from others who can understand their pain. And of course, people also post funny memes about dogs.

“About once a week I’ll post either a poll (so we can learn about the other people in the group and their dogs) or a quiz – usually about a Jewish celebrity and their dog. I’ll also post pictures of Jewish celebrities who are in the news and their dogs or something about an upcoming Jewish holiday-related to dogs,” said Frisch.

Growing Mazel Pups

Mazel Pups is on Instagram now too and also has launched a Facebook Page, in addition to the group.

“My hope – when I have the time, is to create a Mazel Pups website. I’ve already purchased the domain name,” said Frisch.