Dario Hunter

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Dario Hunter
Dario Hunter YCSD (cropped).jpg
Member of the Youngstown Board of Education
In office
Personal details
Born (1983-04-21) April 21, 1983 (age 36)[1]
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Political partyGreen (2018–present)
Independent (2017–2018)
Democratic (Before 2017)
EducationPrinceton University (BA) [2]
University of Windsor (LLB)
University of Detroit (JD)
Wayne State University (LLM)
Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute (Semikhah)[3]
OccupationRabbi of College of Wooster [2][3]

Dario David Hunter (born April 21, 1983), also known as Yisroel Hunter,[4] is an American lawyer, rabbi, educator, and politician. He is the first Muslim-born man to be ordained as a rabbi.[5]


Hunter is openly gay and was raised by his Iranian Muslim father and African American mother in Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey.[6]

Rabbinic career[edit]

Hunter converted to Judaism, first through the Reform movement and then through an Orthodox process.[4] He was ordained as a rabbi in 2012 by the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute in New York City.[7][5][8][6]

A former environmental attorney in Israel, he currently lives in Youngstown, Ohio, and is a rabbi at the College of Wooster.[2][6][9]

A member of Jewish Voice for Peace, Hunter was fired from a position as rabbi of Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah synagogue after critical comments he made about Israel were published in a Cleveland.com article.[10][11][12]

Political career[edit]

Youngstown politics[edit]

Hunter was a Democratic Party candidate for Youngstown City Council in the 2015 primary election.[9] In the 2015 general election, he won a write-in campaign for a seat on the Youngstown Board of Education.[13] In May 2018, he joined the Green Party, becoming the only Green elected officeholder in Ohio.[14]

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,[15][16] ethics violations,[17] nepotism,[17] and creationism in the curriculum.[18][19]

2020 presidential campaign[edit]

Exploratory committee launch[edit]

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.[20][21] Hunter stated that America's divisions and inequalities demanded "a real national conversation about how to change the direction of this country."[22]

Announcement of candidacy[edit]

On February 18, 2019, Hunter officially announced his candidacy for the Green Party nomination during an event held in Pittsburgh.[23] The New Republic referred to Hunter as "as diverse as candidates come..."[24] 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.”[24]

MTV.com highlighted his platform's inclusion of single-payer healthcare for all and "plans to transition the United States to renewable energy entirely." [25]

Firing from synagogue over position on Israel[edit]

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".[26] The synagogue initially denied that his statements on Israel had anything to do with the decision, citing merely his choice to run for president and the time commitments involved.[27] The synagogue later affirmed that his statements on Israel had led to his termination.[28]

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." [29]

Bruce Zoldan's comments[edit]

Bruce Zoldan, CEO of Phantom Fireworks, major Trump donor[30] 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."[28] 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." [31]

Campaign tour[edit]

Speaking to press in Carbondale, Illinois, Hunter criticized what he saw as the use of children as "political pawns" in addressing immigration issues at the border.[32] He called for better access to healthcare, a Bill of Rights for people of color, and vowed to end privatization in school districts.[33]

Visit to Israel[edit]

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.[34] His visit generated press attention in both the United States and 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.[35][36][37]


Legal actions[edit]

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.[38]

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.[39] The Department of Education settled with Hunter, providing the records and paying towards his costs.[39]

Electoral history[edit]

2015 Youngstown city council (Ward 6)
Democratic primary election [40]
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[41]
Voters Choose Four
Name Votes Percent Outcome
Brenda Kimble, non-partisan 6,695 37.59% gain
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 [42]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sarah Brown-Clark 7,915 73.22
Independent Dario Hunter 2,894 26.78
Total votes 10,809 100.00


  1. ^ a b "Meet Dario". Hunter 2020. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Pelzer, Jeremy (2019-02-19). "Youngstown School Board member Dario Hunter seeks Green Party presidential nomination". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Dario Hunter". The College of Wooster. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  4. ^ a b "Biography". The Kosher Unicorn. Archived from the original on May 11, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "NYC: Ex-Muslim to be ordained as rabbi". YNetNews.com. July 7, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  6. ^ 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 August 26, 2012.
  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 April 1, 2016.
  8. ^ "Black Jews You Should Know, Part 4". Tablet Magazine. February 25, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Dario Hunter for Youngstown City Council, Ward 6". Retrieved January 13, 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 12 June 2019.
  13. ^ "Struthers and Campbell reject incumbent mayors". WFMJ.com. Nov 3, 2015. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ "Youngstown Academic Distress Commission begins search for C.E.O". WFMJ.com. Apr 13, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  16. ^ "City school board approves administrative contracts, rejects members' pay limitation". The Vindicator (vindy.com). Apr 27, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Youngstown school board member questions legality, ethics of president's, son's votes". The Vindicator (vindy.com). Feb 10, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  18. ^ "Adair storms out of Youngstown school board meeting". The Vindicator (vindy.com). May 25, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  19. ^ "Video in Youngstown schools' science curriculum espouses creationism". The Vindicator (vindy.com). May 20, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  20. ^ "Dario Hunter". www.facebook.com.
  21. ^ Staff, WKBN (January 23, 2019). "Dario Hunter launches exploratory committee for Green Party presidential nomination". WKBN.
  22. ^ "Dario Hunter - Announcement of 2020 Exploratory Committee". January 21, 2019 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ Koziol, Brandon. "Youngstown Board of Education member announces 2020 run". www.wfmj.com.
  24. ^ a b "The Democrats Stole the Green Party's Best Idea". The New Republic. February 22, 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-06-11.
  25. ^ "How to Keep Track of the Over 200 people Running for President". MTV.com. May 16, 2019.
  26. ^ Pelzer, Jeremy (February 19, 2019). "Youngstown School Board member Dario Hunter seeks Green Party presidential nomination". cleveland.com.
  27. ^ Oster, Marcy. "Ohio rabbi, Greens president candidate says shul fired him for Israel criticism". www.timesofisrael.com.
  28. ^ a b Carroll, Ed. "Youngstown-area rabbi says he was fired over Israel comments". Cleveland Jewish News.
  29. ^ Killy, Daniel (May 29, 2019). "Rabbi for President". Jüdische Allgemeine.
  30. ^ "July 4 firework donor met with Trump on tariffs ahead of donation – WTOP". wtop.com.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ "Green Party Presidential Candidate Makes A Stop In Carbondale". WSIU.
  33. ^ "Green Party presidential candidate campaigns in Carbondale". WSIL.
  34. ^ "Rabbi and Green Party presidential hopeful visiting 'Israel-Palestine'". www.timesofisrael.com.
  35. ^ "Quick Reads Archive".
  36. ^ "Hunter, Green Party presidential candidate, meets in Israel with political party leader". vindy.com.
  37. ^ "Youngstown rabbi and Green Party presidential hopeful visiting 'Israel-Palestine'".
  38. ^ "Lawsuit settled between Youngstown City School Board member, district". WKBN. October 19, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  39. ^ a b http://supremecourt.ohio.gov/pdf_viewer/pdf_viewer.aspx?pdf=853607.pdf
  40. ^ "2015 Primary Election". Mahoning County Board of Elections, OH. May 5, 2015. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  41. ^ "2015 General Election". Mahoning County Board of Elections, OH. November 21, 2015. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  42. ^ "2017 General Election". Mahoning County Board of Elections, OH. November 7, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2019.

External links[edit]