A young Reb Shneur in Chevroner Yeshiva. Wiki Photo.
There's a bit of legend mixed up in the facts, but the basic story is as follows. (Lubavitchers always get their facts wrong, don't they?) The late BMG'er Rebbetzin escaped to Shanghai via Kobe, Japan. (Regardless of what Wikipedia says. she didn't go Eretz Yisroel in 1940) Before the war she was already engaged to Reb Schneur, who made his way to Eretz Yisroel, studying in Chevroner Yeshiva. After the war RSK traveled to the US to be reunited with his father. Rishel was stuck in Shanghai until 1947. So said her son Aron at the levaya. So the chosson and kallah were apart for some 6-7 years. During that time Rishel contacted typhus or TB. I forget which. She of course recovered, but only after Reb Meir and his Rebbetzin nursed her back to health. She was also apparently smuggled into the US by Lubavitcher bochurim. That's how the Lubavitcher version goes. The Kotler family was still worried and thought about breaking off the shidduch, as we say in Brooklyn. The story goes that the late Shanghai'er Rov, Reb Meir Ashkenazi, grandfather of the late KfarChabad'er Rov, who was held in high regard by all who came in contact with him, was asked to intercede on Rishel's behalf. He went to the Frierdige Rebbe who sent him to the Rebbe who told him what to do. Basically, that since they wrote the Tenoyim already that they're required to keep the shidduch and they should be told as much. In the end it all worked out - and the rest is history.
Reb Aryeh Malkiel Friedman. Photo Source
The funny thing is that the Kotler family made no mention of it at the shiva. Despite the fact that R' Shragie Kotler married a granddaughter of Reb Meir Ashkenazi. They have a totally different version. I heard from people who were there at the shiva that according to the sons SHE was the one who wanted to break off the shidduch - or at least she told them that she was no longer a yachsan, since her father was a Baalbatisher Yid and a Talmid Chochom, but he's no longer alive. Her father was, after all, a Slabodker talmid and a chaver of RAK, and she saw that as her only right, so to speak, to enter into a family such as the Kotlers. And also that she had been ill and that the doctors say that she will not be able to bear children. According to the family it was her future shver that was to have told her that since Reb Elchonon Wasserman הי"ד was the one who made the shidduch in the first place that there was nothing to worry about, and that the shidduch must go on. B'chol ofen, ווי עס זאל נאר ניט זיין, it makes for good conversation. Agav, I mentioned to a Lakewood talmid friend of mine who grew up there that based on what they say of her, how she cared poshut b'gashmius for every talmid, that the title "Mother of Klal Yisroel", which was bestowed on the very righteous Rebbetzin Kanievski by the editors at Artscroll, would be much more suited to the BMG'er Rebbetzin than to her, simply for the amount of talmidim and talmidos she came in contact with and helped out. Zol zee zayn a gutte betterin far di gantze BMG mishpoche.