Instagram supporters raise $1 million for Orthodox fashion designer

Simi Polonsky's Instagram followers raised money for her after her husband suddenly died at age 31.

Simi Polonsky, left, with her husband Shua (photo credit: THE FROCK NYC/INSTAGRAM)
Simi Polonsky, left, with her husband Shua
A few months back, Simi Polonsky was posting photos of herself on Instagram dressed in colorful modest-chic outfits — the kind of fashionable clothing that nonetheless adheres to Orthodox Jewish dress standards.
Polonsky is a co-founder of The Frock NYC, a fashion label created in 2010 that has built substantial buzz as the industry incorporates more demure and religious styles into its mainstream.
These days, The Frock’s Instagram page is far more somber. Polonsky’s husband Shua passed away on Nov. 9 from a condition he had contracted only weeks before.
She has written openly on the company’s Instagram page about her struggles, religious and non-, to cope with his condition and his eventual death. A week before his passing, she wrote that she thought she would have to shut The Frock down.
She also posted multiple family photos on the account, and in one chronicled how a doctor gave Shua his grim diagnosis.

Part 1/3: INTEGRATION I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to get back to regular Frock Programming with the dramatic shift in my life that Hashem has thrown my way. In fact, even on a general level I keep trying to imagine how I’m going to get back to regular life programming on a day to day basis. Creating a ‘new normal’ is what I’ve been told will help, and that I WILL get used to and get regain strength from the ‘new normal’ to push through. That’s what I’m currently mediating on. The day after I heard the news of Shua’s situation I was stuck between desperate hope and panic mode. I told Chaya that The Frock had to be shut down. The mere thought of having to manage both made me feel like I was drowning. But faith, patience, and the strength and love that I have been receiving from around, and drawing from within is teaching me otherwise, allowing me to BE in the “new normal”. The Frock will go on. I need it to. My new normal NEEDS to have the Frock in it, so I can share with you, receive from you, and use this power to support me every day.

A post shared by Chaya & Simi (@thefrocknyc) on

As difficult as the time has been for Simi and her two young children, one big consolation has been the popularity of a fundraising campaign at the crowdsourcing site Charidy, which as of Wednesday has raised over $1 million from nearly 9,000 donations.
A description on the Charidy page notes that Polonsky is pregnant with a third child.

The nurses keep saying how Shua has changed their lives forever. The light, the love and positivity they felt over his bed was palpable. They said as nurses they NEVER give out their numbers, NEVER attend their patients funerals, NEVER go to Shiva houses and NEVER text spouses to check in on them after their loved one has passed. Their job is surrounded by giving life, but often also accompanied by losing life at the same time. Hence, they distance themselves. But it was different this time. Shua was different. They felt a force pulling them in, their desire to be around Shua, his family and the unshakable and unwavering prayers and good deeds and positive energy of the world was magnetic. Their entire unit has changed forever. Dr’s don’t believe in miracles. Only numbers, statistics and facts. But today, after meeting with the Dr’s for reasons I don’t know exactly why I needed to go, they said it clearly: Medically, Shua should not have made it past the first night. The only fathomable reason they said he did was because of his fight, that was fueled by our fight, a tsunami of light, positivity and prayer that kept his body going, despite all odds. The light was so strong inside him, that it spread throughout the world. Yet his body was not able to contain it, and he had 'Shviras Hakelim', ‘breaking of the vessels’ in the strongest spiritual and physical sense. While Shua was sick, I would say to Hashem, “If not for me and my children, do it for the hope of humanity and the world”. Let me make this clear: NOTHING WAS IN VAIN. Every prayer, every good deed, every positive thought, sent Shua soaring on an eagle of light and love to the highest gates of Heaven. Anyone standing around his bedside knew that the three angels that escorted Shua to the hospital were there fighting with us for three weeks. While there is a gaping hole in my heart so deep that will be there forever, Shua has left me with a light so strong that sometimes I feel like he has stepped inside my body, giving me breath, so I can breathe. Light doesn’t need a full heart to be spread, just a flame, and then it can ignite infinite amounts of candles, so long as the source doesn’t get extinguished.

A post shared by Chaya & Simi (@thefrocknyc) on

Polonsky and her co-founder and sister Chaya Chanin are both native Australians. They founded The Frock NYC in 2010 to “coolify being modest,” as Polonsky told the New York Post earlier this year. Some in the Orthodox community complain that any nod to modernity is too much, although the line has been a small-scale success.
Shua Polonsky, who was raised in Cleveland and trained as a therapist, was 31 when he died.
“I know no one will be able to heal my broken heart, but at the times when I feel like I just cannot keep my arms raised any longer, your love and support are the rocks that hold them for me,” Simi wrote on Instagram Tuesday.