Henrietta Szold (1860- 1945), an avid supportive of women's education, was an ardent believer in the special skills women could bring to the Zionist movement. These skills included the practical and organizational work of mothers. Szold utilized her conception of women's special maternal skills to legitimatize her public presence within the Zionist movement. Yet, due to the use of this rhetoric, Szold limited her public presence because of maternalism's essentialist notions of womanhood. By exploring the historical context of maternalism within the framework of Szold's life work within the United States and pre-state Israel, I explore how one American Jewish woman created a public persona and its effectiveness in light of the work she accomplished and the sacrifices she made in her personal life. Szold is referred to as the "mother of Israel" for her work on behalf of Youth Aliyah, an organization that began in 1933 with the purpose of saving Jewish youth from Nazi Germany. Before heading Youth Aliyah, Szold taught high school; founded, administered and taught at a night school for Russian immigrants in Baltimore, Maryland; tutored world-renowned scholars at the Jewish Theological Seminary; attended the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York as the first female student; worked for the Jewish Publication Society as editor, secretary, and translator; served as one of the co-founders and the first and third president of Hadassah (the Women's Zionist Organization of America); and headed the Portfolio for Education and Social Service in the yishuv ( the Jewish community in pre-state Israel). Never a woman to shy away from duty, Szold became the role model for future generations of American Jewish women. However, this icon never strove to be a role model. Rather, Szold's mission was to educate Jewish women in Jewish religion, history, literature, and eventually Zionism so that they too could participate in the restoration of Judaism, which to Szold would only occur through Zionism.