Your Minister Agrees – Water from the Jordan River is the Best Option for Baptism

Meet the man from Kentucky who believed he could make it big selling waters from the Jordan River to Christians in America.

Nati Gabbay
אנשי "החברה הבינ"ל למים מנהר הירדן" ונציגים עות'מאנים עם החביות המוכנות לייצוא. נהר הירדן, 1906

“On Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Colonel Clifford Nadaud of Covington, Kentucky in America arrived in our city.

Clifford Nadaud is the Colonel of the staff of the governor of that commonwealth and has come to our city on behalf of a company he has founded to supply waters from the Jordan River to the Christian world for baptizing children and other needs of the Christian religion. Colonel Nadaud brought special barrels to be used in transporting the water from the Jordan to the four corners of the earth. The water will be boiled ahead of filling the barrels that will then be stamped with the seal of the American consulate.”

Hashkafa, November 26, 1906. Click on the image for the full article

In the fall of 1906, a businessman arrived in the Holy Land from the great state of Kentucky with a vision: to make unholy money from holy waters. He came to the Land of Israel with dozens of barrels to be filled with water from the Jordan River. After all, who would not want to buy a bottle of water from the source where Jesus himself was baptized?

Clifford received permission from the Ottoman leadership to take the water and the American consulate in Jerusalem agreed to stamp and give diplomatic authentication on the water export.

“Do you believe, sir,” the reporter of the Israeli newspaper Hashkafa asked the shrewd businessman, “that this will be a big business that will bring in a good profit?”

“I hope… I’m certain! Of course!” replied Clifford, who, like many American entrepreneurs knew that business also requires patience. “Two or three years will go by without profit, and during that time we will spend a lot, but after that, the business will make a profit in favor of the company that invested in it.”

The Bee in Kentucky reports, 1906

Clifford did not view the business as a gimmick- he took his vision very seriously and the news of his activities spread forth from Kentucky and across the globe. It even made it all the way to New Zealand.

A report from a New Zealand newspaper, December 21, 1906. Click on the image for the full article

Within five weeks, the vision became a reality.

“Colonel Clifford Nadaud, from America, who arrived here several weeks ago on business for the River Jordan Water Company to supply the waters of the Jordan River to Christians for religious purposes has finished his work and will return to his country in two weeks time,” reported Hashkafa. “During his time here he sent 30,000 kilograms of Jordan River water to America. Each barrel was transported from the Jordan River to the railway station on a cart pulled by three horses.”

When asked again regarding the potential success of his product, the entrepreneur replied that he hoped River Jordan Water Company will be “big business.”

We did not manage to find out if this start-up became a “big business” but after writing this story, the diligent reporter from Hashkafa noted, “If our country does not export gold, silver and precious stones, perhaps we have alternative exports, one of them being the waters of the Jordan for the Christians. Perhaps soon a Jewish company will begin supplying Israeli dirt to Jews living in the Diaspora?”


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