Dario Hunter
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Dario Hunter
Dario Hunter
Dario Hunter headshot.jpg
Member of the Youngstown Board of Education

Personal details
Born (1983-04-21) April 21, 1983 (age 36)
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Political partyDemocratic (Before 2017)
Independent (2017-2018)
Green (2018-present)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
University of Windsor (LLB)
University of Detroit (JD)
Wayne State University (LLM)
Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute (Semikhah)

Dario David Hunter (born April 21, 1983),[1] also known as Yisroel Hunter,[1] is an American lawyer, rabbi, educator, and politician.[2][3][3] He is the first Muslim-born man to be ordained as a rabbi.[4]


Hunter is openly gay and was raised by his Iranian Muslim father and African American mother in Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey.[5]

Rabbinic career

Hunter converted to Judaism, first through the Reform movement and then through an Orthodox process.[1] When he was an Orthodox Jew, Hunter described himself as a "socially liberal conservative" and noted that he had previously engaged in "pro-Israel political activism."[6] He was ordained as a rabbi in 2012 by the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute in New York City.[7][4][8][5]As a rabbi, he later described himself as "very liberal and open minded."[1]

A former environmental attorney in Israel, congregational rabbi in Youngstown, Ohio and campus rabbi at the College of Wooster, he currently lives in Los Angeles, California.[2][5][1][9]

A member of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Hunter was fired from a position as a part-time rabbi at Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah synagogue after he announced his run for the Green Party presidential nomination and critical comments he made about Israel were published by Cleveland.com.[10][11][12] Addressing a Green Party presidential debate about his own change over time on the issue of Israel, Hunter attributed it to "realizing that you're wrong and then doing better and committing to do better as a human being...."[13] He stated that though he felt "blacklisted" from the rabbinic profession, he would "continue to support the cause of Palestinians and human rights causes all across this world, even at a personal cost..."[13]

Political career

Youngstown politics

Dario Hunter as a Member of the Youngstown Board of Education.

Hunter was a Democratic Party candidate for Youngstown City Council in the 2015 primary election, where he placed third, garnering 2.9% of the vote.[9] In the 2015 general election, he won a seat on the Youngstown Board of Education, receiving 5.0% of the vote as a write-in candidate.[14] In May 2018, he joined the Green Party, becoming the only Green elected officeholder in Ohio.[15]

Hunter has been noted in the media for his outspoken stances on a number of school board issues, including what he sees as the Youngstown Board of Education's responsibility for low scores on state report cards,[16][17]ethics violations,[18]nepotism,[18] and creationism in the curriculum.[19][20]

Hunter ran for re-election to the Youngstown Board of Education in 2019. He was not re-elected, placing less than one percent (0.53%) behind the fourth elected candidate.[21]

2020 presidential campaign

Dario Hunter campaigning in Arlington, VA in 2019.

Exploratory committee launch

On January 21, 2019, Hunter officially announced the formation of an exploratory committee to prepare for a potential run in the 2020 Green Party presidential primaries.[22][23] Hunter stated that America's divisions and inequalities demanded "a real national conversation about how to change the direction of this country."[24]

Announcement of candidacy

On February 18, 2019, Hunter officially announced his candidacy for the Green Party nomination during an event held in Pittsburgh.[25]The New Republic referred to Hunter as "as diverse as candidates come..."[26] Hunter stated to that publication, "If we want to cut through the lack of attention given [to Greens], we need someone who has a loud and clear voice and a tough skin." "It takes a tough skin to be an openly gay black son-of-an immigrant Jewish rabbi."[26]

MTV.com highlighted his platform's inclusion of single-payer healthcare for all and "plans to transition the United States to renewable energy entirely." [27]

Firing from synagogue over position on Israel

Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah, the Boardman, Ohio, synagogue where Hunter served as rabbi, fired him after his comments on Israel were published in a Cleveland.com article.[10][11] Hunter stated to Cleveland.com that he did "not believe the United States should be providing any form of aid to Israel or any human-rights abusers" and referred to Israel's treatment of Palestinians as "horribly atrocious".[28] The synagogue originally attributed the dismissal to a concern that his presidential campaign would take up too much time for him to perform his duties as a rabbi. They later cited the content of Hunter's statements about Israel as a reason.[29][30]

Hunter has made fighting anti-BDS laws a part of his campaign, telling German paper Jüdische Allgemeine, "We will fight the attempt to curtail our rights to freedom of expression through laws that ban the boycott of Israel and the criticism of its human rights violations." [31]Hunter is a signatory to Boycott from Within, an association of Jewish and Arab Israelis who support the BDS movement.[32]

Bruce Zoldan's comments

Bruce Zoldan, CEO of Phantom Fireworks, major Trump donor[33] and board member of Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah, stated in an email to the synagogue's board, "I will finance him if he promises to open and manage a gay bar for former Muslims with Jewish beliefs in Ramallah."[30] Hunter, an openly gay convert to Judaism from Islam, told The Vindicator that he was "shocked and saddened" by Zoldan's statement and called it "homophobic and anti-Muslim." [34]

Campaign tour

Speaking to press in Carbondale, Illinois in June 2019, Hunter criticized what he saw as the use of children as "political pawns" in addressing immigration issues at the border.[35] He called for better access to healthcare, a Bill of Rights for people of color, and vowed to end privatization in school districts.[36] In Springfield, Missouri in August 2019, Hunter outlined an expanded Green New Deal - called the Green Path Forward - including an effort to improve diplomatic relationships with other countries, such as rivals like China and Iran, end war, stop the outsourcing of pollution and deal with environmental crises other than carbon emissions such as plastic pollution.[37][38] At a presidential debate at Ball State University, Hunter addressed systemic racism in healthcare stating, "We need to invest in making sure that we have a better healthcare infrastructure including in underserved minority communities.... We need more measurable, assessable standards for accountability to deal with the inequality in care and we need consequences." [39][40] In Jan. 2020, at a Green presidential candidate forum in Charlottesville, Virginia, Hunter stated "We need to slash the war budget... [W]e need to invest instead in peace. We need to invest in a Department of Peace for active peace building across the globe."[41][42] Hunter stated that this policy goal would "lay the groundwork for how we will be instrumental as a nation in helping to save this planet - shoulder to shoulder with other nations...."[42]

Visit to Israel

Hunter visited Haifa, Israel the day before April Israeli elections to meet with Reem Hazzan, the campaign manager for the joint campaign of Hadash and Ta'al.[43] His visit generated press attention in Israel, with particular emphasis given to Hunter's advocacy for Palestinian rights and his reference to the area as 'Israel-Palestine,' a term also used in the Green Party's official platform.[44]


Legal actions

In 2017, Hunter filed a lawsuit against the Youngstown City School District in the Ohio Supreme Court for failing to provide public records. His request focused on a company contracted to hire principals for the district. The district settled with Hunter, providing the records and paying him costs. Hunter planned to donate the $100 awarded for court fees to the Boys and Girls Club.[45]

In 2018, Hunter sued the Ohio Department of Education in the Ohio Supreme Court for failing to provide public records on an investigation into Youngstown's CEO for alleged inappropriate conduct.[46] The Department of Education settled with Hunter, providing the records and paying towards his costs.[46]

Electoral history

2015 Youngstown city council (Ward 6)
Democratic primary election [47]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Anita Davis 457 67.11
Democratic Christine Silvestri 204 29.96
Democratic Dario Hunter 20 2.94
Total votes 681 100.00
2015 Youngstown city school district election[48]
Voters Choose Four
Name Votes Percent Outcome
Brenda Kimble, non-partisan 6,695 37.59% hold
Michael Murphy, non-partisan 5,613 31.51% hold
Corrine Sanderson, non-partisan 3,545 19.90% gain
Dario Hunter, write-in 885 4.97% gain
Tina Cvetkovich, write-in 425 2.39% loss
Tyrone Peakes II, write-in 410 2.30% loss
Rick Alli, write-in 238 1.34% loss
2017 Clerk of the Municipal Court, Youngstown
General election [49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sarah Brown-Clark 7,915 73.22
Independent Dario Hunter 2,894 26.78
Total votes 10,809 100.00
2019 Youngstown city school district election[50]
Nonpartisan election
Voters Choose Four
Name Votes Percent Outcome
Tiffany D. Patterson 3,632 22.58% gain
Brenda Kimble 3,438 21.37% hold
Juanita Walker 3,243 20.16% gain
Barbara Brothers 2,930 18.21% gain
Dario Hunter 2,845 17.68% loss


  1. ^ a b c d e f "About Dario". Hunter 2020. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ a b Pelzer, Jeremy (2019-02-19). "Youngstown School Board member Dario Hunter seeks Green Party presidential nomination". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Dario Hunter". The College of Wooster. Retrieved .
  4. ^ a b "NYC: Ex-Muslim to be ordained as rabbi". YNetNews.com. July 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Muslim-born American to be ordained as rabbi in New York". Al-Arabiya News. July 7, 2012. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  6. ^ "The Kosher Unicorn - Black, ex-Muslim, gay Religious Jew... Rabbi: Bi...". archive.ph. 2013-01-28. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Skolnick, David (January 30, 2015). "It's off to the races in Youngstown". The Vindicator. Youngstown, Ohio. Archived from the original on April 27, 2019. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "Black Jews You Should Know, Part 4". Tablet Magazine. February 25, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Dario Hunter for Youngstown City Council, Ward 6". votedario.com. Retrieved 2015.
  10. ^ a b Pelzer, Jeremy (February 27, 2019). "Green Party presidential hopeful says he was fired as rabbi because of Israel criticism". cleveland.com.
  11. ^ a b PinkFebruary 27, Aiden; Hunter, 2019Courtsey of Dario. "This Rabbi Was Fired And Has No Pulpit, But He's Running For President". The Forward.
  12. ^ Oster, Marcy. "Ohio rabbi, Greens president candidate says shul fired him for Israel criticism". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Video of Missouri Green Party Presidential Forum". Missouri Green Party Facebook. August 11, 2019.
  14. ^ "Struthers and Campbell reject incumbent mayors". WFMJ.com. November 3, 2015. Retrieved 2016.
  15. ^ "Yesterday morning Youngstown school board member Dario Hunter took a primary ballot for the Green Party, becoming the only current elected officeholder to be a member of the Green Party in Ohio". Ohio Green Party Twitter. May 6, 2018.
  16. ^ "Youngstown Academic Distress Commission begins search for C.E.O". WFMJ.com. April 13, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  17. ^ "City school board approves administrative contracts, rejects members' pay limitation". The Vindicator (vindy.com). April 27, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Youngstown school board member questions legality, ethics of president's, son's votes". The Vindicator (vindy.com). February 10, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  19. ^ "Adair storms out of Youngstown school board meeting". The Vindicator (vindy.com). May 25, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  20. ^ "Video in Youngstown schools' science curriculum espouses creationism". The Vindicator (vindy.com). May 20, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  21. ^ "Summary Results Report: Official Report: 2019 Mahoning County General Election". Mahoning County Board of Elections. Retrieved .
  22. ^ "Dario Hunter". www.facebook.com.
  23. ^ Staff, WKBN (January 23, 2019). "Dario Hunter launches exploratory committee for Green Party presidential nomination". WKBN.
  24. ^ "Dario Hunter - Announcement of 2020 Exploratory Committee". January 21, 2019 – via YouTube.
  25. ^ Koziol, Brandon. "Youngstown Board of Education member announces 2020 run". www.wfmj.com.
  26. ^ a b "The Democrats Stole the Green Party's Best Idea". The New Republic. February 22, 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-03-01.
  27. ^ "How to Keep Track of the Over 200 people Running for President". MTV.com. May 16, 2019.
  28. ^ Pelzer, Jeremy (February 19, 2019). "Youngstown School Board member Dario Hunter seeks Green Party presidential nomination". cleveland.com.
  29. ^ Oster, Marcy. "Ohio rabbi, Greens president candidate says shul fired him for Israel criticism". www.timesofisrael.com.
  30. ^ a b Carroll, Ed. "Youngstown-area rabbi says he was fired over Israel comments". Cleveland Jewish News.
  31. ^ Killy, Daniel (May 29, 2019). "Rabbi for President". Jüdische Allgemeine.
  32. ^ "Signatures BOYCOTT!". BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within. Retrieved 2020.
  33. ^ "July 4 firework donor met with Trump on tariffs ahead of donation - WTOP". wtop.com.
  34. ^ Zoldan, Bruce; Members, One of the Temple's Most Well-Known. "Hunter says he's 'shocked and saddened' by 'bigoted' email from Zoldan". vindy.com.
  35. ^ "Green Party Presidential Candidate Makes A Stop In Carbondale". WSIU.
  36. ^ "Green Party presidential candidate campaigns in Carbondale". WSIL.
  37. ^ "Green Party brings discussion of Green New Deal to Springfield". Springfield News-Leader. August 12, 2019. Retrieved 2020.
  38. ^ "Green Party Debates Green New Deal". Counter Punch. October 3, 2019. Retrieved 2020.
  39. ^ "Green party presidential candidates hold forum at Ball State". Ball State Daily. September 21, 2019. Retrieved 2020.
  40. ^ "Black Caucus Green Party Presidential Debate Series". Indiana Green Party Youtube Channel. September 20, 2019. Retrieved 2020.
  41. ^ "Green Party of Virginia hosts two Presidential hopefuls". NBC29.
  42. ^ a b "Green Party Presidential Candidate Campaign Event in Virginia". Green Party of Virginia Youtube Channel.
  43. ^ "Rabbi and Green Party presidential hopeful visiting 'Israel-Palestine'". www.timesofisrael.com.
  44. ^ "Youngstown rabbi and Green Party presidential hopeful visiting 'Israel-Palestine'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved .
  45. ^ "Lawsuit settled between Youngstown City School Board member, district". WKBN. October 19, 2017. Archived from the original on April 21, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  46. ^ a b http://supremecourt.ohio.gov/pdf_viewer/pdf_viewer.aspx?pdf=853607.pdf
  47. ^ "2015 Primary Election". Mahoning County Board of Elections, OH. May 5, 2015. Retrieved 2019.
  48. ^ "2015 General Election". Mahoning County Board of Elections, OH. November 21, 2015. Retrieved 2019.
  49. ^ "2017 General Election". Mahoning County Board of Elections, OH. November 7, 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  50. ^ "2019 General Election". Mahoning County Board of Elections, OH. November 5, 2019. Retrieved 2020.

External links

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