Jewish officials have gathered with nearly 50 elderly Christian Poles who saved Jews during World War II, praising them as heroes during an event organized as an expression of gratitude.

The rescuers, one of whom is 100 years old and several of whom arrived in wheelchairs or on crutches, gathered for a luncheon at a Warsaw hotel, where Poland's chief rabbi, an Israeli diplomat and the head of a Jewish organization paid tribute to them.

The organization, the U.S.-based Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, also provides financial support to Poles and others across Europe who have been recognized by Israel's Yad Vashem for rescuing Jews.

Standing before the rescuers, the group's executive vice president, Stanlee Stahl, told them they are heroes and that they "saved the honor of humanity."