Gamification conference post still to come. Here's the rest of my trip:
I spent shabbat in Berkeley around the synagogue Congregation Beth Israel. The area was pleasant and suburban. The shul does not arrange places for visitors to sleep (there are many every week), but they arrange meals. The couple Ruchama and Avraham Burrell took me for Friday night meal. They invite any stray travelers for shabbat meals, as they have been hosting people for over twenty years now and they consider it a life mission of sorts. Contact me for details.
Another couple hosted me for shabbat lunch. At both meals I ran into souls who had gone through, or were in the process of going through, difficult times: who had MS, who had been (in the past) homeless in San Francisco, who were estranged from their families, whose mother had recently died but who had no support network for grieving and no connection to a Jewish community (this was her first time in a synagogue). They were offered community, support, and meals.
At shul, they said psalms multiple times for the three boys who went missing and appear to have been kidnapped by Hamas.
BART took me to the airport on Sunday morning and the trip home was uneventful, which was surprising for me. Even the TSA agents who patted me down were more relaxed than the ones in Philadelphia.