Katherine Harris, Citrus Canker, and Kabbalah Water. Really.

I am not making this up.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that while she was Florida’s Secretary of State, Katherine Harris ordered testing of “Celestial Drops” as a way to eradicate citrus canker, a disease that leaves a rusty looking scale on oranges, grapefruit, etc.

…For more than six months, the state, at the behest of then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris, did pursue one alternative method — a very alternative method.

Researchers worked with a rabbi and a cardiologist to test “Celestial Drops,” promoted as a canker inhibitor because of its “improved fractal design,” “infinite levels of order” and “high energy and low entropy.”

I don’t know whether to applaud Harris or boo her. O.K., I object to the heavy-handed way she went about it but I must say I didn’t think the girl had it in her.

The initial push came from Harris…the granddaughter of legendary citrus baron Ben Hill Griffin Jr., said she was introduced to one of the product’s promoters, New York Rabbi Abe Hardoon, in 2000.

Hardoon did not want to discuss Celestial Drops when contacted by the Orlando Sentinel.

But Harris said Hardoon told her he was working with Israeli scientists who had developed a compound that made plants resistant to canker. Harris acted as intermediary and urged state agriculture officials to work with Hardoon and his associates…

Canker spread quickly through Florida’s citrus groves, and the state’s only method for getting rid of it is to cut down the infected trees, even the ones in backyards. This has not been a popular program, with farmers or with homeowners.

…In the past 10 years, Florida has been swamped by companies claiming to have a cure for canker.

In virtually all cases, the state has thanked the companies for their interest and delivered the same message: “Test the product using accepted scientific principles and then show us the results.”

…But though the state told other companies it could not test their products, it made an exception for Celestial Drops. After months of correspondence, researchers took the unusual step of testing the product for Hardoon and his partner, New York cardiologist Artur Spokojny.

Wait. It gets better.

…Meanwhile, some scientists were wondering what role an ancient branch of Jewish mysticism played in the development of the solution.

One document in the state’s files indicates an official had searched the Internet for information on Hardoon and Spokojny and discovered both practiced Kabbalah, a religious movement whose followers include celebrities such as Madonna. Hardoon also teaches Kabbalah.

Mystically blessed water is a vital part of the faith and is sold for $3.80 a bottle at Kabbalah centers throughout the country.

Believers maintain the blessings performed over the water change its molecular structure and imbue it with supernatural healing powers. The traits attributed to so-called Kabbalah water — “elegant crystalline structures” and “high energy and low entropy” — are virtually identical to those of Celestial Drops.

Hardoon said he did not want to discuss any possible connection between the two.

Asked whether the mystery cure was really Kabbalah water, he said, “I can’t really give you that information.”

Asked whether the canker project was related at all to Kabbalah, he said, “It is, and it isn’t.”

He then referred all further questions to the Kabbalah Centre of Los Angeles, headquarters of the movement. Officials there did not return calls, and Spokojny was not available for comment.

As always, Katherine denied knowing anything about anything.

Harris seemed surprised Friday that the product she once hoped might cure canker may be nothing more than blessed water…

As for the possible Kabbalah connection, Harris said she was in the dark.

“Clearly, it isn’t something I knew about,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve heard any of this.”

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