Religion: The Long Course

Thirty years ago a middle-aged grocer named Donald Shapiro of Scranton, Pa. signed up with a group to whom his rabbi was giving a night course in the Talmud—the vast accretion of text and commentary that forms the body of Jewish law. They studied hard—an hour a night, six nights a week. This week, after about 9,000 hours, retired Grocer Shapiro, 78, completed the course.

Twelve students began the long bout of learning with Rabbi Henry Guterman, and twelve sat down with him last week to celebrate with a banquet. But Don Shapiro is the only member of the original group...