The sun was searing recently as Cassandra Cohen pushed her fingers into the cool soil.
She was working with family and friends to establish a garden in memory of her friend Alexa who died of brain cancer at age 10. But it was more than a memory garden alongside Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge.
"This is a garden for the five senses," she said.
The project is 13-year-old Cassandra's "Mitzvah Project" -- a charitable project that some young members of the Jewish community commit to undertaking as part of their preparations for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony.
With the assist of her father, an experienced landscape professional, Cassandra organized the project, designed the garden, collected donations and supplies and recruited volunteers.
The completed garden has an irrigation system, Tortoise and Hare benches, wind chimes, and is filled with the spirit of love.