By David R. Cohen | david@atljewishtimes.com

Rabbi Thomas Liebschutz of Congregation Ner Tamid in Marietta has completed a half-century in the rabbinate.

RabbiLNer Tamid GOODHS

Rabbi Thomas Liebschutz celebrated 50 years in the rabbinate on May 16.

Ner Tamid held a celebration for Rabbi Liebschutz on Saturday, May 16. Rabbi Liebschutz, who was ordained in 1965 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, has been the Reform congregation’s spiritual leader since 2009 and has been involved with Ner Tamid since 2006.

Rabbi Liebschutz’s career includes eight years as community rabbi/chaplain for the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, 10 years at Temple Tifereth Israel in Malden, Mass., and volunteer work at Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell. He taught Jewish studies at Tufts University, Wake Forest University, Salem College and Wichita State University.

“The area that I chose to make my life’s work in a sense has become who I am,” Rabbi Liebschutz said. “I didn’t know it so much going into it, but I certainly know it now. I treasure it, and it means that I have fulfilled my potential. Outside of family, this is what I wanted to do with my life.”

Rabbi Liebschutz started rabbinical school in 1960, the year he married Marilyn. He said he discovered a love for teaching early in life as a summer camp counselor and was inspired to become a rabbi by his father, who was a board member for 15 years at Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester, N.Y., where Rabbi Liebschutz grew up.

Rabbi Liebschutz, 78, and his wife have four grown children, Philip, Ruth, Joshua and Rachel. The couple moved to Atlanta to be closer to Ruth and grandchildren Ben, Jake and Sam, who live in East Cobb.

In 2006, he came out of retirement to assist the young congregation of Ner Tamid with High Holiday services, and he has been with the congregation ever since, whether leading Shabbat services, overseeing b’nai mitzvah training or assisting with the religious school.

Rabbi Liebschutz recently signed a contract with the congregation for an additional two years.

“I’m enjoying it. This is who I am,” he said. “I’ve never been in such a young congregation, such a new congregation. They started from scratch and built it up. When I first started with them, we met at Christ Lutheran Church in West Cobb. We are now in our own space in the shadows of Kennesaw Mountain. It’s been a wonderful feeling for everybody here to know that it’s our own.”