Cream shortening in a large mixing bowl; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Dissolve soda in water; stir into creamed mixture.
Sift together flour, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium mixing bowl; add dates and pecans, stirring to coat well. Add to creamed mixture, stirring until thoroughly blended.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350° for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets, and cool on wire racks.