The Jewish people are a welcoming people. Anyone who sincerely wishes to join us is welcome. Righteous converts are embraced and treated with special care and sensitivity. Anyone, at any time, can become a part of our people.

That is until the Messiah comes. After that point there will be no further opportunities for conversion.

Why not? Because you can't hedge your bets, see "which side" is the winner and then decide how to vote. Bets are placed before the game begins. When the Messiah comes and a newfound clarity that will bring recognition of God and His Torah to the world, the choice to convert would no longer be a meaningful one. There is another reason why the coming of the Messiah is the cut-off date. Those who do not share in the hardships of the Jewish people will not share in its joys either. The Talmud teaches, "Those who mourn the destruction of the Temple will rejoice in its rebuilding."

It brings to mind the children's story of The Little Red Hen. The little red hen repeatedly tried to solicit the help of the other farm animals in her bread making adventure. They refused to participate in the planting, the cutting, the grinding or the baking. So the little red hen, having some knowledge of this Talmudic dictum, refused to let the other animals assist in the eating!

This is a time of trouble for our people, and there is no standing on the sidelines. We all need to be counted. We need to support our people and our country. And we need to be prepared to put our all on the line for our endangered brothers and sisters.

If we don't, we are not full participatory members of our people. If we don't, we are turning our backs on our people. If we don't, we are choosing comfort over principle, self-interest over community.

It's a lonely choice. We owe it to our people to be there for them in times of challenge. We owe it to ourselves to stand up for others. We owe it to the Almighty not to abandon His children.

There may be more tough times ahead. Only through unity and a deep sense of caring will we prevail.

When that day of triumph and glory comes, we want to be able to reap the full joy. Let's pay that price now. Let's speak out for Israel, not just because it's right, not just because it's just, but because that's my family. I'm sharing their pain. And soon, please God, I'll be sharing their joy.